News for Immediate Release
April 28, 2023
Contact: Katie McKalip, 406-240-9262, [email protected]
BHA roundly condemns suite of House bills that would undermine America’s most successful conservation and access program
WASHINGTON – Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is strongly criticizing four bills in the House of Representatives that take aim at the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Great American Outdoors Act, the bipartisan law that ensures continued LWCF funding.
Together the four bills would hamstring the ability of public land management agencies to strategically acquire areas of important fish and wildlife habitat and places key to public access. H.R. 2207, H.R. 2158 and H.R. 2169 would defund the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Park Service public land acquisition via LWCF funds. H.R. 2153 would severely limit the Bureau of Land Management from acquiring public land with a funding cap of $28 million, less than half of the proposed budget. Prohibiting these agencies from using all of LWCF’s tools will lead to management inefficiencies and preclude critical investments that expand public access.
Hunters and anglers, including BHA members and supporters, have played a key role in sustaining LWCF, America’s most popular and successful conservation and access program. BHA members helped achieve passage, in 2019, of the bipartisan Dingell Act, which permanently reauthorizes LWCF, and subsequently, passage of the Great American Outdoors Act in 2020. With strong, bipartisan support led by Republicans and Democrats, the Great American Outdoors Act was advanced by three quarters of members of Congress and signed into law by President Trump – a strong supporter of the program. GAOA secures full, permanent funding for LWCF at $900 million annually, guaranteeing the program’s continued ability to conserve important habitat and recreational lands and waters all across America.
“Together, hunters and anglers have notched some critical wins for conservation in recent years,” said John Gale, BHA vice president of policy and government relations, “but our constant vigilance is critical, as there will always be forces trying to take away those victories. Today, we stand united in opposing legislation that would steal one of our greatest gains for conservation yet this century, and today, we remain committed to keeping Land and Water Conservation Fund dollars working on behalf of conservation, public access and our hard-won outdoor traditions.
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund exists today because millions of Americans – including BHA members who called and emailed our elected officials, outdoors advocates who raised their voices, businesses that leveraged their influence and elected leaders who joined from both sides of the aisle – worked together relentlessly,” Gale continued. “The story of LWCF is a story of American democracy, of shared commitment in the name of public lands, conservation and access. Together we must act as sentinels to defend our victories – and ensure the future of our outdoor heritage.”
Since its inception in 1964, LWCF has funded 40,000-plus projects and provided access to millions of acres of public lands, all without spending taxpayer dollars. Places ranging from Tenderfoot Creek, Montana, to Louisiana’s Bayou Sauvage depend on LWCF to support local economies, enhance hunting and fishing opportunities, and maintain quality habitat for elk, pintail ducks, trout, and other game species that thrive on our public lands and waters.
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