Support and Protect the Land and Water Conservation Fund

Guest blog by Hannah Clark, Land & Water Conservation Fund Coalition
The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), one of the most important federal programs for conserving habitat and providing LWCFpublic access to lands and waters, turned 50 this month.
Established in 1964 through a bipartisan act of Congress, the promise of LWCF was to use a portion of offshore oil and gas lease royalties to create parks and protect crucial fish and wildlife habitat to help sustain our rich outdoor traditions, much like Michigan’s Natural Resources Trust Fund.
The Huron, Ottawa and Hiawatha National Forests, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and Shiawasee National Wildlife Refuge have all benefited from LWCF.
The fund’s promise, however, is eclipsed by the fact that it has been fully funded only once. Over and over again Congress has diverted funding that is supposed to go to permanently protecting our outdoors, and that has a dedicated funding source. Critical projects to benefit fish and wildlife and access for sportsmen – projects that have broad public support – are going unfinished because of inadequate funding.
Add to that the fact that this critical grant program for Michigan's outdoor future expires next year, and its clear that we in the sportsman's community need to be paying attention.
According to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, 1.9 million Michiganders head into the great outdoors ever year – placing us 4th in the nation for outdoor participation. Traditions like fall deer season and Great Lakes salmon and steelhead runs are deeply engrained in our culture and are significant economic drivers for our communities. Each year Michigan’s $4.8 billion hunting and fishing economy supports 74,000 jobs.
At Michigan United Conservation Clubs one of the themes we hear time and time again is that access to quality places to hunt and fish are becoming harder to find. Though access for sportsmen is a complex and multifaceted issue, there is one concrete step that our representatives in DC can take to support access to public lands by hunters and anglers: working to ensure full funding and reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

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