The Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance applauded President Barack Obama’s repeated call for full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in his proposed FY 2015 budget earlier today. The proposed budget calls for the full $900 million originally authorized in the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act. The LWCF is a vital source of conservation dollars for sportsmen, helping to preserve habitat and access to public lands across all fifty states.
Funded by royalties paid by offshore oil and gas development and not the American taxpayer, the LWCF has nevertheless seen its annual appropriations continue to decrease. President Obama’s budget has again made clear that the promise the American government made to use these royalties to guarantee Americans’ access to the outdoors must be upheld. Sportsmen must now call on Congress to take this cue from the administration and pass a budget that includes full funding for the LWCF.
“Sportsmen across the country depend on the LWCF, even if they don’t know it,” said Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance director Gaspar Perricone. “LWCF dollars have been used to improve hunting and angling opportunities on public land in every state. This is one of the primary ways that we invest in conservation and access in this country and is a real American success story.”
The opportunities provided by LWCF are vital to the $90 billion economic engine driven by hunters and anglers. Nobody knows this better than RJ Guidry, a hunting guide and custom duck call manufacturer in Kaplan, Louisiana who also works offshore, helping to generate the royalties that fund the LWCF. “Without conservation, hunters lose out on opportunities to get to the field. As a guide and custom call maker, my business is tied to opportunities for sportsmen,” said Guidry. The Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance announced the kickoff of a new social media campaign, with Guidry at the heart, aimed at building support for LWCF.
“LWCF dollars go to improve hunting and fishing on national wildlife refuges, national forests, and conservation areas. Sportsmen have always led the fight to conserve our natural resources and we’re proud to thank the president for his budget request,” said BMSA policy director Jared Mott. “President Obama promised that LWCF would be taken care of as part of his America’s Great Outdoor initiative, and we let the administration know that we were watching. Now, he has kept that promise. Now Congress must pass a budget that also fully funds the LWCF at $900 million for the president to sign.”
The Bull Moose Sportsmen’s Alliance also called on Congress to pass the Making Public Lands Public Act. This bill would dedicate a percentage of LWCF funds each year towards securing access to landlocked or difficult to reach public lands for sportsmen. The bill has been introduced in the House by Congressman Steve Daines while the Senate version is contained in Senators Kay Hagan and Lisa Murkowski’s package of bills called The Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2014.
“The Making Public Lands Public Act is the next piece of the LWCF puzzle for sportsmen,” said Perricone. “Lack of access to quality habitat and the outdoor opportunities it creates are the most frequently cited reason for Americans who stop hunting and fishing. The more people we can expose to the opportunities our public lands offer, the safer the legacy of those lands will be.”