Capital Region Chapter Vice Chair and Mid-Atlantic AFI Liaison
Recently I had the opportunity to participate in a fly-in hosted by the LWCF Coalition in Washington, D.C. This is the second time I have participated in a fly-In. The first was a virtual fly-in, which was in support of the North American Grasslands Conservation Act (NAGCA), hosted by the National Wildlife Federation. This fly-in was in support of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), and there were several organizations in attendance to assist ongoing efforts by the LWCF Coalition. It was truly an honor to represent Backcountry Hunters & Anglers alongside the Kansas Chapter Chair, Kurt Ratzlaff, and more specifically the Capital Region Chapter and the Armed Forces Initiative.
The main purpose of the fly-in was to engage congressional members about their ongoing support for LWCF as well as thank them for their past support. The Great American Outdoors Act, signed into law in 2020, provided for permanent funding of the LWCF. However, there have been recent attempts to introduce recissions to that funding. You can read the legislative update about this here. We asked members and staff to be aware of these efforts to undermine LWCF and take an active leadership role in killing those bills and any others that may be introduced.
Over two packed days of meetings, I was able to meet with six of our legislators from the Commonwealth of Virginia, Senator Kaine, Congresswoman Spanberger, Congresswoman Wexton, Congresswoman Kiggans, Congressman Beyer, and Congressman Whitman. I am appreciative of their time and thankful for their strong stances in support of LWCF. There was a lot of good discussion on the issues of the day and I invited each out for a "boots on the ground" discussion at an LWCF funded site within their respective districts. Pleased to say that there have already been follow ups and hopefully we will be able to reengage during the summer recess.
As a member of the Armed Forces Initiative, representing the Mid-Atlantic region, I was able to discuss the many issues facing veterans after 20 years of war. I recently retired from the Marine Corps after 26 years and this topic is near and dear to my heart. Many of those who have served, or are still serving, have faced a lot of hardship over the last couple of decades. Like many, I can attest to the power of the outdoors in dealing with this topic. Fortunately, many of our legislators recognize this, including those I met with during this fly-in. It was a point of pride to be able to voice just how important our public lands are to our military community and the role LWCF plays.
If you have never had the opportunity to participate in a fly-in, I highly encourage you to do so. Let your chapter leaders know and when these opportunities arise, you will be the first to know. As Uncle Randy says, conservation isn't easy. It takes all of us to stand up and hold the line.