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Baltimore mourns Rep. Elijah Cummings, who 'Fought for All.' Also on our rundown: Rick Perry headed for door as Energy Secretary; and EPA holds its only hearing on rolling back methane regulations.

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While controversy swirls at the White House, Chicago teachers go on strike and Democratic primary contender retired Admiral Joe Sestak walks 105 miles across New Hampshire.

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Report: Stop Under-Funding LWCF, It Hurts MT

PHOTO: Conservation of west-slope cutthroat trout habitat connected to Tenderfoot Creek is one of the case studies in a new report about how Land and Water Conservation Fund projects benefit local recreation economies. The report also calls for the fund to be reauthorized at its full amount next year. Photo credit: National Park Service
PHOTO: Conservation of west-slope cutthroat trout habitat connected to Tenderfoot Creek is one of the case studies in a new report about how Land and Water Conservation Fund projects benefit local recreation economies. The report also calls for the fund to be reauthorized at its full amount next year. Photo credit: National Park Service
September 5, 2014

MISSOULA, Mont. - Birthday No. 50 was this week for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The money, which comes from offshore oil and gas royalties, has been used for parks, trails, sport fields, open spaces and recreation access across the nation. In Montana, the funds also have been used for conservation easements to preserve habitat and access for hunting and fishing - with a case study of the Tenderfoot Creek region in a new report issued to mark the fund's 50th.

Every time money comes to the state from the fund, said Bruce Farling, executive director of Montana Trout Unlimited, the local economy blossoms.

"Every dollar we've spent of LWCF," he said, "has benefited anglers and hunters and local communities - local community health - as well as our tourism community."

The report calls for full allocation for the fund. Congress has diverted money from the fund almost every year since it became law.

Conservation groups and city planners know the value of the LWCF, said Whit Fosburgh, president and chief executive of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, which issued the report about the fund benefits, but the grassroots hunting and fishing community might have taken it for granted.

"I think it's the responsibility of every hunter, every fisherman, every outdoorsman in this country to stand up and make their voice heard, and say, 'This is important,' " Fosburgh said. "If Congress hears that from enough people, they will get together and they will do something about this."

The fund is supposed to be reauthorized next year, and Fosburgh called it an opportunity to recommit to the original purpose of the fund, which was to invest in local landscapes to offset damage from offshore drilling.

The report, "The Land and Water Conservation Fund and America's Sportsmen and Women," is online at trcp.org.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - MT