By Ivy Fredrickson - July 3, 2018 - Originally published in the Independent Record.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund uses offshore oil and gas revenues, not taxes, to fund fishing access sites, community parks and strategic acquisitions of public lands that expand public access or provide recreational opportunities. The LWCF is very important to communities like Butte.
The Outdoor Industry Association found that in Montana alone outdoor recreation generates $7.1 billion annually in consumer spending, supports 71,000 jobs, generates $2.2 billion in wages and brings in $286 million in state and local tax revenue. Along with the rest of Montana, Butte’s economy benefits from outdoor recreation thanks to our public lands and thanks to the LWCF. In spite of all this, the LWCF is set to expire in less than 100 days.
Sen. Steve Daines recently expressed his full support for LWCF in front of a crowd on the Capitol lawn in Washington, D.C. Sen. Daines pointed out that Montanans choose to live here because “people like to work where they also like to play,” referring to the public lands and access opportunities close to Montana’s urban areas. The LWCF “is important for us,” he said, “and I support the full and permanent funding of LWCF.”
Yet just hours later, Sen. Daines voted to cut the LWCF budget for the U.S. Forest Service by $16 million.
We know that conserving and ensuring public access to our lands and waters is building a more prosperous future for Butte. Dedicated and permanent funding for LWCF plays a critical role. Sen. Daines’ about-face is bad for Butte and bad for Montana.
Ivy Fredrickson is a member of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and lives in Butte with her husband, two kids and one energetic springer spaniel.