Brainerd Dispatch: Reader Opinion: Reauthorize LWCF
Recently, Congress allowed one of our greatest and most effective federal programs to expire. The Land and Water Conservation Fund is America's best tool for providing public access to outdoor recreation, protecting our forests, wildlife, and our rivers and lakes, benefitting all of us. This 50-year program reached its deadline on Sept. 30 and, for the first time ever, Congress let it pass without reauthorizing LWCF.
This popular program is not supported by tax dollars, but instead uses royalties paid by energy companies drilling for oil and gas offshore in our public waters. The idea is simple: As we deplete one resource, we offset with protection of other natural resources. In Minnesota, these dollars have protected lands from Voyageurs National Park and the St. Croix Wild and Scenic Riverway to the Superior and Chippewa National Forests including significant portions of the North Country Trail. In addition, LWCF helped build ball fields and other recreational facilities protecting close-to-home parks and trails for Americans in every state in the nation. And the program supports our outdoor recreation economy, an industry that generates $11.6 billion in consumer spending in Minnesota alone.
I'm proud of the fact that Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and Congressman Rick Nolan worked up until the very end to try to extend LWCF. However, they can't do it on their own. It is time for Congress to ensure that this critical program is around for another 50 years and beyond.
Anglers for Habitat