MISSOULA, Mont. — Marking the most significant nationwide conservation milestone this century, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is now permanently and fully funded. It happened after President Donald Trump signed the Great American Outdoors Act into law.
“This is a landmark accomplishment and a tremendous victory for conservation!” said Kyle Weaver, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation president and CEO. “It simply cannot be overstated how vital this program is for our public lands, wildlife and outdoor recreation.”
RMEF played an intimate and key role in the process. In March 2020, Senators Steve Daines (R-Montana) and Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) secured a meeting with President Trump and several staffers in Washington D.C. Daines then reached out to RMEF to acquire high-quality maps, photos and other details about RMEF’s Falls Creek project, which permanently protected 442 acres of wildlife and riparian habitat along Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front and greatly improved access to 27,000 acres of public land beyond.
During their meeting, Daines shared project details with the president including how $250,000 in LWCF funds helped close the transaction. President Trump then stated that “sealed the deal” for him and he called on Congress to send him a bill to provide permanent, dedicated funding to LWCF.
“This program is absolutely crucial for elk, other wildlife and hunting access,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “LWCF further improves public access to public lands by directing federal agencies to open lands for hunting, fishing and recreational shooting unless specifically closed.”
For RMEF alone, LWCF so far provided millions of dollars to help permanently protect more than 162,000 acres of America’s most important elk habitat and open public access to more than double that acreage across 12 states.
First created in 1964, LWCF makes funding available to lawmakers to appropriate $900 million annually from federal offshore drilling fees for the protection of important land, water and recreational areas for all Americans to enjoy.
Among other things, the Great American Outdoors Act also addresses a backlog of maintenance issues at national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and other federal lands to enhance the experiences of sportsmen and women who use the areas to hunt, fish, camp, view wildlife and enjoy other forms of outdoor recreation.
About the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation:
Founded more than 36 years ago, fueled by hunters and a membership of nearly 235,000 strong, RMEF has conserved more than 7.9 million acres for elk and other wildlife. RMEF also works to open and improve public access, fund and advocate for science-based resource management, and ensure the future of America’s hunting heritage. Discover why “Hunting Is Conservation™” at rmef.org or 800-CALL ELK.