recreation

Time for Congress to support our great outdoors

Repost from the Grand Junction Sentinel:

by THE DAVE DRAGOO

With elections behind us, Congress is reconvening for its so-called "lame duck" session. One of its first orders of business should be to permanently reauthorize our nation's most successful outdoor recreation program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

Over its more than 50 years, the LWCF has provided more than $16 billion in protecting valuable habitats, expanding public access to America's public lands, and supporting local projects for outdoor recreation. And it has done so without busting the federal budget — relying on revenue generated by the success of America's energy sector, not taxpayer dollars.

Close to home, LWCF has helped western Colorado with investments from protecting the Ophir Valley above Telluride, to securing key inholdings at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, to supporting the community Riverwalk in Pagosa Springs. More than $268 million has flowed into Colorado from LWCF, securing key public lands, opening up improved hunting and angling access, and supporting community trail and park development.

Yet despite bipartisan support and a long track record of success, Congressional gridlock allowed the LWCF to expire on Sept. 30. The loss of LWCF could seriously hamper future efforts to conserve valuable habitats and expand public access to America's public lands. Fortunately, the lame duck session gives Congress a second chance to reinstate the program with full, dedicated annual funding.

Here in Colorado, we know that protecting our outdoor resources isn't just about the environment and our quality of life — it is also an investment in our state's economy and our communities. Outdoor recreation in Colorado contributes $62.5 billion to our state economy, and supports 511,000 jobs. For businesses like Mayfly, the great outdoors is our corporate infrastructure — and the LWCF helps provide the outdoor resources for our customers that allow us to invest in our companies, our workforce, and our communities.

Sens. Bennet and Gardner and Congressman Tipton have all supported permanent reauthorization of LWCF, for which Coloradans can be grateful. Now it is time for them, and the rest of Congress, to finish the job and ensure that this vital program continues to support Colorado's — and America's — great outdoors and the multi-billion outdoor recreation economy that it supports. The time is now to #SaveLWCF.

David Dragoo is president of Mayfly Outdoors, a Certified B Corp that operates Montrose-based Abel Reels and Ross Reels with the goal of conserving wildlife and fish habitats.

Article Link

Funding for Outdoor Recreation in Colorado at Risk

See the full article from CBS 4 Denver featuring Trout Unlimited's Scott Willoughby.

Outdoor recreation is widely recognized as being one of the largest industries in Colorado, providing over 200,000 jobs, $9.7 billion in wages and salaries, and $28 billion in consumer spending. In fact, 71% of the state's residents participate in outdoor recreation alone. (Stats from the Outdoor Industry Association)

Most outdoor recreation occurs on the state's public lands and parks which are funded through various avenues. One of those funding sources comes from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which has set aside and protected special places in Colorado and nationwide for more than 50 years. This fund is not fueled by tax dollars but rather the royalties from offshore oil and gas developments. Unfortunately, the continuation of this fund is set to expire September 30, 2018 unless Congress steps up.

So far, Senators Bennet and Gardner have both been leaders in supporting LWCF – but we need Colorado’s House delegation to also step up so that this successful program isn't lost to Congressional gridlock.

I am proud to support the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The funding will help states protect their natural treasures and wildlife for generations to come. This bill not only has an important environmental impact, but it is also important to Colorado’s economy in promoting outdoor recreation.
— Representative Mike Coffman
CTU and Colorado Wildlife Federation leaders meeting with Representative Mike Coffman.

CTU and Colorado Wildlife Federation leaders meeting with Representative Mike Coffman.

On August 20, 2018 the Colorado Wildlife Federation and Colorado Trout Unlimited thanked Representative Mike Coffman for supporting the reauthorization of the LWCF at the trailhead of the West Toll Gate Creek Trail in Aurora, a key segment in its trail system that has received substantial support from a federal grant from the LWCF. 

"From trails and parks along the Front Range, to expanding angling and hunting access on the west slope, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has invested millions of dollars into Colorado's great outdoors," said Colorado Trout Unlimited Executive Director David Nickum. "We thank Representative Mike Coffman for supporting reauthorization of LWCF, and urge the rest of our Congressional delegation to join him to ensure that this successful program doesn't expire after September." 

You can read the full press release from the Colorado Wildlife Federation here. 

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