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Rally Today to Press Sen. Daines on Land and Water Conservation Fund

Conservation groups estimate the Land and Water Conservation Fund has paid for more than half of the fishing access sites across Montana. (Skeeze/Pixabay)
Conservation groups estimate the Land and Water Conservation Fund has paid for more than half of the fishing access sites across Montana. (Skeeze/Pixabay)
August 12, 2019

MISSOULA, Mont. — Conservation groups are holding a rally in Missoula today to press Sen. Steve Daines to back full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The rally starts at 11 a.m. at the DoubleTree Edgewater Hotel, where Daines is headlining a forum by the City Club Missoula. Aaron Murphy, executive director of the group Montana Conservation Voters, said as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Daines should make good on past promises to give the program the full $900 million a year.

"He has a very important opportunity to flex some muscle and make this happen,” Murphy said. “You don't just get credit for saying nice things; you get credit for actually having the courage to fund these things."

Earlier this year, Daines joined other lawmakers to reauthorize the nonpartisan LWCF, which is funded by fees collected from offshore drilling, but the money still needs to be appropriated. In May, Daines proposed to fund the program at $600 million, or two-thirds.

The LWCF has spent $400 million since 1964 in Montana, funding countless public lands projects. Murphy said the program is crucial for protecting the outdoor recreation that draws so many to Big Sky Country.

"They fund big things and little things, from trailheads to fishing access sites, to places where people can park their cars and put boats in the river and enjoy the things that make Montana famous,” he said.

Murphy added Montana's outdoor recreation economy generates $7 billion a year and directly supports 70,000 jobs.

Congress' deadline to pass a budget is September 30. Monday’s rally is co-sponsored by Montana Conservation Voters Education Fund, Forward Montana Foundation and the MontPIRG Leadership Fund.

Disclosure: Montana Conservation Voters & Education Fund contributes to our fund for reporting on Environment. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - MT