Land and Water Conservation Fund: Access to quality recreation at stake

Congress moved last week to allow the Land and Water Conservation Fund to expire. Courtesy: Utah State Parks

<span>SALT LAKE CITY – It was historic move – for the first time in 50 years Congress did not reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund.</span>

<span>Local supporters of the fund are disappointed, but not giving up. </span>

<span>Joel Webster, director of the Center for Western Lands with the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, calls it a quality of life issue. </span>

<span>He says people in Utah and across the nation want access to fishing, hunting, wildlife and recreation sites that the fund plays a vital role in providing.</span>

<span>”The loss of this fund means that we are losing $2.5 million a day that could go towards important habitat projects and outdoor recreation opportunities,” he explains. “Things like that – so, it’s a huge loss. “</span>

<span>Opponents maintain the fund puts too much emphasis on federal land acquisition. They’d like to see more focus on land management. </span>

<span>Webster points out no tax dollars are involved. Instead the fund relies on up to $900 million a year that comes from offshore oil drilling royalties.</span>

<span>Land Tawney, executive director of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, says the fund supports access to some of the best hunting and fishing spots in the state.</span>

<span>”It can be used to provide access to inaccessible public lands, provide access to the rivers,” he points out. “You know Utah is one of those states in the West that people are moving to because of the amenities that provided there. So as this fund goes away, you may lose that ability.”</span>

<span>The fund was originally signed into law in 1965 and reauthorized for another 25 years in 1990. Supporters say they will keep pushing for reauthorization this year.</span>

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!