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OR Sportsmen Support Obama's "Conservation Promise"

PHOTO: Sportsmen say some of the best fishing spots on the Crooked River aren't accessible to the public because adjacent land is in private hands. An LWCF grant could change that. Photo credit: BLM Prineville office.
PHOTO: Sportsmen say some of the best fishing spots on the Crooked River aren't accessible to the public because adjacent land is in private hands. An LWCF grant could change that. Photo credit: BLM Prineville office.
March 6, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. - When President Obama's budget proposal came out this week, one aspect that didn't get much attention is his recommendation to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund. LWCF money comes mostly from offshore oil and gas fees, and is supposed to be used to preserve public land and water resources, but Congress routinely raids it for other purposes.

In Oregon, where outdoor recreation is a $13 billion annual business, LWCF is an important economic driver, according to Brian Jennings, sportsmen's outreach coordinator for Backcountry Hunters and Anglers in Oregon.

"What this fund does is help fuel that; it helps provide those jobs, it helps get people to the outdoors, better. It leads to more recreation. It helps guides; it helps the outfitters," he explained.

Jennings said the President's call for full funding is largely symbolic, but it adds to the growing public pressure on Congress to stop diverting the money. This year is the 50th anniversary of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and it has only received its full amount of $900 million, once in that half-century.

In Oregon, sportsmen have plenty of priorities for LWCF funding, such as gaining access to the Crooked River Canyon in central Oregon by purchasing about 100 acres of nearby private land. Jennings pointed out that now, people have to trespass to fish there.

"This is a National Wild and Scenic River, and they're reintroducing Chinook runs, salmon runs, steelhead runs in that part of the river," he said. "So, it'll have a nice access point so people can actually use it, and not just stare at it from about a mile above the rim."

Many of Oregon's outdoor recreation spots, large and small, have been improved by LWCF grants; Jennings says the fund has brought more than $300 million to the state over the years.

Last month, a poll of 600 Oregon voters for the Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts found 80 percent of Republicans, and more than 90 percent of Independent voters and Democrats, all supported full funding for LWCF.

LWCF information is at fs.fed.us.


Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR