For immediate release
email@example.com, (307) 757-7861
Legislation to fully fund LWCF and address maintenance backlog gains momentum
Senate to vote on Land and Water Conservation Fund, House introduces companion bill
(June 4, 2020) WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Thursday, the Senate began consideration of S.3422, the Great American Outdoors Act. Sponsored by Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), the bill would fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and help tackle the multi-billion-dollar public lands maintenance backlog. The proposal enjoys broad bipartisan support with 58 cosponsors, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and President Trump has tweeted his support for the measure.
Meanwhile, a group of bipartisan lawmakers introduced companion legislation today in the House of Representatives. Sponsored by Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-SC), the House bill was introduced with broad support, including Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), Mike Simpson (R-ID), TJ Cox (D-CA), John Katko (R-NY), Xochitl Torres Small (D-NM), Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Kendra Horn (D-OK), Steve Stivers (R-OH), Jared Golden (D-ME), and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE).
“We thank the bipartisan group of lawmakers and Senate leadership for making this legislation a priority,” said Steve Moyer, vice president of government affairs for Trout Unlimited. “Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have long sought to fulfill the LWCF promise for the American people and provide much-needed funding for the stewardship of our public lands.”
S. 3422 would fully fund LWCF at $900 million per year and includes $9.5 billion in funding over five years to tackle the deferred maintenance backlog on public lands. Since 1965, LWCF has been the primary funding source to acquire and conserve new public lands that are essential for sustaining our outdoor traditions and protecting fish and wildlife habitat. The public lands maintenance backlog has been mounting for decades and is now estimated at $20 billion across all agencies.
“Public lands are incredibly valuable to Trout Unlimited and our members. Not only do they offer world-class angling opportunities, but the majority of remaining habitat for native trout is found on public lands,” continued Moyer. “In recent months we have seen just how valuable public lands and open spaces are to Americans of all walks of life. Whether it’s brook trout fishing in Smoky Mountain National Park in Tennessee, hiking in the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia, hunting in the San Juan National Forest in Colorado, or a walk in the local county park, this legislation will help to sustain America’s outdoor heritage for generations to come.”
In addition to fully and permanently funding LWCF, dedicated funding for deferred maintenance will help to fix roads that are bleeding sediment into streams and remove migration barriers for trout at road crossings, such as undersized culverts. Trout Unlimited partners with both the Department of the Interior and Forest Service on collaborative restoration projects and has leveraged nearly $43 million in funding to complete restoration projects on Forest Service lands. Much of this work is dedicated to projects that address maintenance backlogs while improving and restoring trout habitat.
“Trout Unlimited is all in to get this once in a generation bill over the finish line. We look forward to working with members of both parties to get this legislation through both Houses and on the President’s desk,” said Moyer.
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.