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PNS Daily Newscast - October 19, 2018 


Senator Corker demands the Trump administration share intelligence on the killing of a Washington Post columnist. Also on the Friday rundown: groups sue over the Texas border wall plan; and the soggy summer in some states may lead to higher pumpkin prices for Halloween.

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MT Veterans Call for Historic Site, Monument Protections

The Land and Water Conservation Fund has helped acquire the land for thousands of monuments and historic sites across the country, including Fort Missoula. (davesamy26/Flickr)
The Land and Water Conservation Fund has helped acquire the land for thousands of monuments and historic sites across the country, including Fort Missoula. (davesamy26/Flickr)
May 25, 2018

HELENA, Mont. – As Americans observe Memorial Day, more than eight thousand veterans from across the nation have signed a letter urging Congress to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a program that helps protect some of the nation's most historic battlefields, monuments and public lands.

Garett Reppenhagen is the son of a Vietnam Veteran, grandson of two World War II veterans, and served in Kosovo and Iraq. He’s also the Rocky Mountain director at the Vet Voice Foundation, and says it's important for leaders to support a program that honors the sacrifices made by service members.

"To protect this country, and a program that supports the land of the free,” says Reppenhagen. “It protects our ability to utilize the outdoors and recreate in public lands, and it also helps protect some of these battlefields and historic sites of our military heritage."

The letter includes signatures from 70 Montana veterans. It calls on Congress to restore the fund before it's set to expire on September 30th.

Reppenhagen says if lawmakers don't act, the program that has funded such iconic sites as Gettysburg and the 9/11 Memorial would be at risk. He notes the program also supports national parks and forests, and more than 40,000 state and local park projects across the country.

Reppenhagen says the fund also is critical to Montana because outdoor recreation contributes more than $7 billion annually to the state's economy, more than $280 million in state and local tax revenue, and more than 70,000 direct jobs. He adds that projects ranging from restoring baseball fields and inner-city swimming pools, to connecting hunters and anglers to public lands, comes at no cost to taxpayers.

"It draws funds from offshore oil and gas royalties,” says Reppenhagen. “And that money, because obviously there's degradation to our environment from oil and gas drilling, the original idea was take some of these dollars and put it towards conservation efforts."

The Land and Water Conservation Fund was created by Congress in 1964 with bipartisan support to provide funds and matching grants to federal, state and local governments. Its historic focus has been to conserve lands considered irreplaceable, including national parks, forests and wildlife areas.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - MT