Montana Senator seeks expanded public land access for sportsmen
(U.S. SENATE)— Outdoors enthusiasts have a new ally in their fight to expand access to public lands and to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).
Senator John Walsh this week met with Montana sportsmen and women and the organization Businesses for Montana Outdoor’s to discuss LWCF and its role in expanding access to Montana’s public lands.
Walsh’s support for legislation to fully fund the LWCF comes on the heels of a controversial new proposal to the Bureau of Land Management to complete a land swap that could privatize prime back country elk habitat in Montana without adequately expanding access to public land elsewhere.
The sportsmen and women Walsh recently met with stressed the importance of expanding access to public lands, not simply trading one access point for another.
“In Montana, we have a proud outdoor heritage that brings JOBS and billions of dollars into our state every year,” Walsh said. “We value our natural resources and public lands, and preserving access for all Montanans and visitors from around the country. With tourism as one of our state’s largest economic drivers, it is important to take responsibility to fully fund the LWCF.”
Walsh, a veteran angler of the Missouri and Big Hole Rivers, also highlighted the economic impact a fully-funded LWCF would have for Montana. Montana’s public lands account for 64,000 jobs and have an economic impact of $5.8 billion annually.
Walsh plans to add his name to legislation to fully fund LWCF in the coming days. Senator Jon Tester is a longtime supporter for full funding for LWCF.
The LWCF was established in 1965 to protect and provide recreational access to millions of acres of public lands. In the past 50 years, Montana has received over $400 million to enhance streams, upgrade trails, and strengthen our access to some of the world’s most precious landscapes.