Land and Water Conservation Fund and Event RecapOctober 5, 2017
So many great things happened this past weekend at our Shootout Rendezvous. We had kids, women, new hunters, new anglers, and many more attend our celebration of National Public Lands Day. There were all day seminars and everyone that attended learned a ton about how and where to go utilize the 640 million acres of public land in this great country. There were many highlights, but a huge thanks goes out to Pheasants Forever Yakima Chapter for being the key underwriter for a youth pheasant hunt that was hosted at no charge to the 30 kids that attended. It was a collaborative effort between Red's, WDFW, Pheasants Forever, and the Kittitas County Field and Stream Club.
In addition to a great youth pheasant hunt, sporting clays tourney, and countless seminars our underlying goal here is make the public aware of the great opportunities we have and that we need to unite to protect them. Please take the time to carefully read the LWCF.
Among the event exhibitors was Washington Association of Land Trusts. Prior to the event I knew little about this group, but feel passionately that anglers, hunters, hikers, bird watchers, and general outdoor enthusiasts all need to work collaboratively together to conserve our wild lands for all time. More importantly, there is a key piece of legislation that needs OUR support. That means all of us. Land trusts are an instrumental tool for outdoor enthusiasts to protect and preserve wild places for many facets of outdoor recreation. Most of these preserve access for anglers and hunters.
Land and Water Conservation Fund
I did not know about this prior to the event and I appreciate the funding source, so read on and try to understand why this is such a critical component to protecting our sporting resources. Created by Congress 50 years ago, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is a bipartisan commitment to safeguard our sporting heritage by conserving lands with high wildlife habitat value, important water resources that support healthy fisheries, and secure access for recreational opportunities like hunting and fishing. My kind of legislation.
The LWCF is based on the simple idea that as we sell off natural resources, we should reinvest a portion of earnings into conserving and opening up our natural heritage to the public. Who can argue with that? LWCF is entirely funded from a small percentage of the leases paid by companies to drill offshore for oil and gas on our public waters. It does not use a penny of taxpayer money. Those funds then go to make critical investments in partnership with state and local efforts to bolster America's national parks, national wildlife refuges, national forests, national trails, and BLM areas.
We at Red’s Fly Shop, with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Pheasants Forever, and the Kittitas Field and Stream Club, offered a free public get-together on Saturday, September 30th to celebrate the 640 million acres of land we all own and learn more about how we can get out and enjoy it.
Last Saturday also kicked off an initiative to draw attention to the peril the LWCF is in, and why sportsmen and women should care. After 52 years of success, LWCF will expire in one year unless Congress reauthorizes it.
Now’s the time for our leaders in Congress to stand up and support LWCF. We’re helping to kick off a 52-week countdown to highlight a different place in a different state every week until the program’s expiration next year, and calling on Congress to act quickly to ensure the future of this critical program. We hope Congress will agree that LWCF is a great deal for all of us and permanently reauthorize this program to the benefit of all Americans.
LWCF has supported the protection of recreation areas in Kittitas and Yakima Counties and across Washington, including Yakima River Canyon recreation sites. Whether you’re floating or fishing the Yakima River, hunting up on the L.T. Murray Wildlife Area, or hiking in the Umtanum or Cowiche Canyon areas, you’ve benefitted from LWCF. The high-quality access our customers enjoy is thanks in part to LWCF funding that protects habitat for fish and game and ensures everyone can use the lands all Americans own.
We want to teach EVERYONE how to use our great outdoors and public play spaces. This picture is from one of the many seminars that were running all day this past weekend at our event.
The great outdoors aren’t just a way of life here — they are also an important part of our local economy. The natural beauty and opportunities for outdoor recreation help drive the local tourism industry, bringing people from across the state and around the world to raft, bird watch, hunt, or fish along the Naches and Yakima River corridors. Outdoor recreation on public lands in Yakima and Kittitas Counties support over 7,000 jobs and $854 million in consumer spending each year.
If LWCF is funded this year, Central Washingtonians will benefit from a locally supported project protecting Yakima River headwaters and forest land in the Central Cascades. The project would provide essential habitat for fish and wildlife.
Join us and hunters and anglers across the nation to #SaveLWCF – learn more about how you can help at www.lwcfcoalition.com/lwcf52weeks/
How Can You Help the LWCF?
Nobody is asking for money. Just awareness. We'll post contact information for key politicians in an upcoming blog, but for now just be aware of it and use the #SaveLWCF on any social media posts of you outdoors. This will actually provide some statistical data for how many folks feel this is an essential fund. I sure do.