Conservation | Featured | Responsible Recreation | Voices from the river

LWCF is more than just fishing access

After having my first child, I found myself in a small town with very little connection to the world outside my four walls. As new moms often do, I felt isolated and exhausted and overwhelmed.

My daughter, who was not wired to be much of a sleeper, would spend the days howling — a wild, blonde little button pusher, cute as hell but seemingly made to send you right to the edge of sanity before reeling you back from the brink no less than seven times per day.

Our primary outlet was the short walk to the park down the street.

In the small, edge-of-the-prairie town where we lived, the streets were wide and the cottonwood trees that lined them were old and large, harkening back to the Oregon trail days of horses and wagons, bark flaking off in places and great limbs creaking, sturdy in the wind that blew regularly at hurricane-category speeds.

The park had probably been there for decades, a cobbling of old and new equipment, some that had tetanus written all over it and some that might have passed a safety inspection in the early 90s. Around the playground was a walkway, also cobbled together as harsh winters had frozen and thawed the ground, cracking and breaking down whatever surface was affordable in the moment.

True, it had seen better days. But for us — for me — it was a godsend.

As we made our way down the street, a fleeting quiet would surround us. The usual activity from the stroller would diminish, the screaming would cease, and with each lap around the park, eyelids would grow heavy until — swooosh — lashes would sweep across cheeks and there would be peace.

And great gratitude.

Laps turned into miles. Round-and-round the loop we would travel. For hours — anything for a small window of serenity and connection to the outdoor world.

At the top of the loop there was a sign: Build with funds from LWCF.

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on the Great American Outdoors Act and while there are many important provisions in that legislation, perhaps one of the most important is the permanent and full funding of LWCF.

This funding, which comes from offshore oil and gas revenues and costs the taxpayers nothing, has been doled out to the benefit of every county in every state of the country. If you fish, hunt — or simply walk in the park — you have probably benefitted from LWCF dollars.

We, as hunters and anglers, have waited decades for the original promise of these funds to ring true. For years, LWCF has been shorted as Congress diverted its dollars elsewhere.

This bill will ensure that happens no longer.

To the mamas needing a break – and many of us do these days — LWCF is for you. Tell your Senator “thank you” for passing this pivitol legislation, and remind your representative that in these trying times, a little time on the water, in the woods or yes, on a path in the park, can go long way toward healing a lot of what the world throws at us.

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