With outdoor participation skyrocketing, dollars for access, habitat and maintenance crucial
For immediate release
July 22, 2020
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(July 22, 2020) WASHINGTON D.C. — Landmark conservation legislation that includes full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and dedicated funding for the maintenance backlog on public lands passed the House today, making its next stop the President’s desk.
The bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act, which garnered support from President Trump earlier this year, and worked quickly through Senate in June before passing the House, 310-107.
“As a nation we are turning more than ever to our great outdoors as an antidote to the impacts of the coronavirus,” said Chris Wood, president and CEO of Trout Unlimited. “Today we can take pride in knowing more hunters will have access to public lands, more anglers will be able to get on the water and more kids will be able to go kick around the soccer ball or play on LWCF-funded playgrounds. Simultaneously, fish and wildlife will benefit from better habitat and dollars will finally flow into fixing the maintenance backlog on public lands. After a lot of hard work from a lot of good people, this is something we can take a moment to savor.”
LWCF has the great distinction of funding projects in every county of every state in the nation. However, despite its popularity and success, the fund – which does not cost taxpayers a dime – has only been fully funded twice since passage in the 1960s.
Equally important is the funding for the growing maintenance backlog on public lands.
“Neglected roads have been bleeding sediment into our streams and blocking fish migration for years,” said Corey Fisher, public lands policy director at Trout Unlimited. “These dollars go a long way to improving water quality and improving our fishing. We want to thank members of the House and Senate for their leadership on a truly historic win in the conservation of our natural resources.”
Trout Unlimited has seen the benefits of LWCF dollars in numerous locations including:
- Canaan Valley, West Virginia: Featured as one of TU’s 30 Great American Places, Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge was purchased using LWCF.
- Cold Stream Forest, Maine: This 8,000 acre acquisition protecting native, wild brook trout was made possible through the Forest Legacy Program, an LWCF-funded program that is administered by the Forest Service.
- Blackfoot River, Montana: Earlier this year the BLM used LWCF to close on the acquisition of 4,500 acres of lands help protect Gold Creek and Belmont Creek, both tributaries to the famed Blackfoot River that are home to wild and native populations of Westslope cutthroat trout and bull trout. This comes after a deal in 2019 that secured 7,300 acres using LWCF.
- Big Thompson River, Colorado: Following the catastrophic 1976 Big Thompson flood, Larimer County used $1 million from LWCF as well as other matching resources, to acquire 80 key properties along the Big Thompson—compensating families for their loss of homes while creating new park lands and recreation opportunities along the river canyon. This foresight avoided some $16 million in estimated property damage when the river flooded again in 2013 that would have occurred had those homes been rebuilt, while also providing outstanding fishing opportunities for an estimated 200,000 angling days each year.
- Fishing access sites across the country: Starting in 1966 while LWCF the state of Montana spent tens of millions of LWCF dollars to start buying and developing fishing access sites. Today LWCF has help secure 70 percent of Montana’s fishing access sites. What’s impressive is that this story isn’t unique – all across the county LWCF has made fishing access possible on hundreds of rivers, lakes and streams in places like Letort Spring Run in Pennsylvania, the Upper Colorado River in Colorado and the Brule River in Wisconsin and many others.
Trout Unlimited is the nation’s oldest and largest coldwater fisheries conservation organization dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s trout and salmon and their watersheds. Follow TU on Facebook and Twitter, Instagram and our blog for all the latest information on trout and salmon conservation.