May 22, 2018
National Program Critical for Recreational Access
MISSOULA, Mont.—A funding mechanism with a long name provides long-lasting benefits for hunters, anglers, hikers and others seeking improved access to America’s wild landscapes.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recently partnered with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to leverage more than $1 million in appropriations from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Priority Recreation Access program to open or improve access to nearly 55,000 acres of public land across four states.
Congress recently boosted LWCF to $425 million—a $25 million increase over 2017 but it did not permanently reauthorize the program which is set to expire September 30.
“LWCF is absolutely vital if we want to continue to permanently protect and provide access to habitat for elk and other wildlife,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation calls on Congress to permanently reauthorize this crucial program.”
RMEF’s most recent LWCF project was the conveyance of a 93-acre tract of land, known as the Cow Island Trail project, to the BLM that improves access to more than 6,000 acres of adjacent public land in north-central Montana’s Missouri River Breaks region.
“Expanding access to public lands for hunting and fishing is one of the BLM's top priorities,” said Brian Steed, BLM deputy director for policy and programs. “Partnering with RMEF allows us to utilize critical funding to secure access to parcels like the Cow Island Trail project, which in turn broadens access now and ensures it for the future.”
Below is a list of RMEF-BLM projects utilizing LWCF-Priority Recreation Access funding.
RMEF Project LWCF Funding
Cache Creek, California $321,000
Cow Island Trail, Montana $97,500
La Barge Creek, Wyoming $192,000
Tex Creek IV, Idaho $400,000
LWCF helps conserve wild and undeveloped places, cultural heritage and benefits fish, wildlife and recreation. Its funding comes from royalties paid by energy companies drilling for oil and gas on the Outer Continental Shelf. The royalties bring in $900 million annually, most of which is diverted to other federal programs.
“It takes great partners like the BLM to provide improved access opportunities for sportsmen and women but it also takes funding. These LWCF-Priority Recreation Access funds are absolutely critical in both conserving prime wildlife habitat and opening or improving access to it,” added Henning.