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Land and Water Conservation FundWhy important ?
What is the Land and Water Conservation Fund and why is it important to you?
The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is the primary source of funding available to the Federal land management agencies to preserve, develop and assure access to outdoor recreational resources. This includes the purchase of in-holdings within existing Federal lands, the purchase of large private holdings that may be threatened by development pressures, as well as the purchase of easements and corridors which provide improved public access to existing federal lands.
In the West, these public lands are where most hunters hunt, and many other forms of recreation take place. They are not subject to the threats of exclusive leasing that threaten hunting and outdoor traditions. They will never be sold and posted "no tresspassing."
How does the Land and Water Conservation Fund get funding?
The LWCF is a “trust fund” that accumulates revenues primarily from oil and gas leases on the Outer Continental Shelf. Over the last decade, these revenues have averaged around $6.4 billion annually. The fund was created by Congress in 1965 as a way to at least partially offset the impacts of oil and gas exploration on our nation’s natural resources. The enabling legislation allowed for $900 million annually - less that 15% of the average revenues over the last decade - to be appropriated to the LWCF for acquisition habitats and recreation areas and to assist in the development of local parks and recreation facilities. The enabling legislation requires that Congress annually appropriate LWCF monies to specific projects. Unappropriated monies are returned to the Federal Treasury to fund unrelated funding needs.
What’s the problem?
Unfortunately, Congress has failed to annually appropriate the full $900 million contributed to the LWCF. In the last decade, Congress only appropriated an average of $313 million annually, or less than 5% of the available offshore revenues. Consequently, Federal land management agencies have not been able to take advantage of willing seller opportunities that would have protected important wildlife habitats from development and provided more places for hunters to hunt. The lack of available funding has precluded these agencies from actively searching for easement and fee acquisition opportunities that would improve hunter access to large tracts of existing Federal lands.
April 6, 2012
Here is the list of Montana land purchases for the national forest system with $41.6 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund announced Friday April 6,2012.
— Legacy Completion, Lolo and Flathead National Forests: Protects watersheds, wildlife habitat and public access to outdoor recreation in and around the Crown of the Continent. Part of the Montana Legacy project, which includes a 111,740-acre land donation. $2 million.
— Tenderfoot Part I, Lewis and Clark National Forest: Provides habitat for West Slope cutthroat trout, elk, moose, and deer in the Tenderfoot watershed of central Montana, as well as public access to hunting and fishing. $2 million
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