December 17, 2015
RMEF: Supports Congress on
Conservation Funding, More Work to Do
MISSOULA, Mont.—The Rocky Mountain Foundation calls on the full Congress to vote in favor of critical conservation and sportsmen issues just approved by Congressional leadership in the latest omnibus budget agreement.
The legislation, which is mandatory to avoid a government shutdown, reauthorized the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) through 2018. It also permanently authorized an incentive toward the creation of conservation easements on privately owned land which will assist farmers and ranchers to permanently protect important wildlife habitat.
A bipartisan effort of western congressional leaders worked together to secure this legislation for wildlife, sportsmen and landowners; all critical elements to healthy elk country.
“We are grateful to Senators Bennet, Crapo, Daines, Gardner, Heller, Risch, Tester and Wyden as well as Representatives Simpson (Idaho) and Zinke who all had key roles in negotiating and overseeing the approval of these two extremely vital and essential conservation programs,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “We now urge RMEF members across the nation to contact their Congressional representatives to vote in favor these issues as part of the current budget agreement vote set for Friday. And we call on the president to sign it into law.”
Congressional leaders appropriated $450 million for LWCF in FY2016, a $100 million increase from FY2015 levels. Since 1990, RMEF has utilized more than $85 million in LWCF funding across 62 projects in ten different states in partnership with federal agencies to protect, conserve and open access to some of the most vital elk country in the United States.
On the downside, Congress came up short on several fronts including permanently fixing the wildfire funding dilemma which continues to drain federal budgets, modest and much-needed forestry reform, and delisting gray wolves in Wyoming and Great Lakes states—a common sense approach that would have ensured consistency in their management. Many view the lack of support for these two issues as negotiating chips given up in this compromise legislation.
“These issues have been and will remain priorities for RMEF and our members since they need to be addressed and are not going away anytime soon,” added Allen.