By Todd Waldron
Passing down the tradition of hunting, fishing and enjoying the great outdoors is a rite of passage in many American families. Our nation’s public lands often serve as the backdrop for those memories and shared experiences.
All responsible hunters and anglers know that for these pastimes to have a future, we must conserve important areas of habitat and ensure funding is available to secure public access to public lands for all Americans. One important tool we have for achieving these goals is the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
LWCF funds projects that protect public lands, waters and wildlife and expand public access. However, in spite of its success, LWCF has been underfunded for years and is now under greater threat than ever.
New York has a strong history of conservation, as well as some of the best hunting and fishing in North America. Some of my best memories come from exploring the world-renowned Adirondack Mountains. At a moment when our public lands face unprecedented threats, elected leaders like Sens. Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrats from New York, have already stepped up to support full and dedicated funding for LWCF.
Congress has taken a great first step to advance conservation and establish publicly accessible recreation sites by permanently reauthorizing LWCF, but without secure and permanent funding, the program will fail to do all that it can to support our nation’s public lands. That funding comes from offshore energy development at no cost to American taxpayers, and the dollars invested provide a 4:1 return.
LWCF has successfully supported tens of thousands of parks and outdoor recreation projects in every congressional district across the country – and it fuels the fast-growing $887 billion annual outdoor recreation economy.
I recently enjoyed a relaxing Labor Day weekend camping, paddling and hiking with my wife, daughter and family at Lewey Lake, an LWCF-funded state campground located in the heart of the Adirondacks in Hamilton County. LWCF is a critical funding mechanism that keeps public lands and state campgrounds like Lewey Lake accessible for all New Yorkers.
Now is the time for our leaders in Congress to fight to fund LWCF, especially during appropriations negotiations when lawmakers are making critical funding decisions. We know that full and dedicated funding for LWCF can be advanced by Congress – and we know that the program is a massive benefit to American communities, for ours and generations to come.
Todd Waldron lives in the Adirondacks and is a life member of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and a Hunt To Eat ambassador.