Montana Public Radio

Land and Water Conservation Fund

Public access to roughly 7,200 acres of private timberland in northwest Montana is now permanently protected. State regulators Thursday approved purchasing an easement on the land for $4.5 million.

A woman stands in a stream fly fishing
PD

Critics say a U.S. Department of Interior order issued earlier this week guts a federal program that uses money from oil and gas drilling to buy land for recreation and conservation.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) received full funding of $900 million per year for the first time in its half-century history when the Great American Outdoors Act was signed into law in early August.

Montana’s Republican Sen. Steve Daines Aug. 11 met with conservation and public lands groups in Gardiner to celebrate the recent passage of the bipartisan Great American Outdoors Act.

With the Roosevelt Arch at Yellowstone National Park in the background, Daines said it was public land that brought a divided Washington, D.C. together.

The weeping wall on Glacier Park's Going-to-the-Sun Road.
David Restivo, NPS (PD)

President Donald Trump signed legislation Tuesday that will devote nearly $3 billion a year to conservation projects, outdoor recreation and maintenance of national parks and other public lands following its overwhelming approval by both parties in Congress.

Map showing the proposed Lost Trail Conservation Area
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Federal officials are proposing 100,000 acres of conservation easements in Northwest Montana to maintain public access on recently sold private timber lands.

Road crew worker installs guard rail on the iconic Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park, MT.
Nicky Ouellet / Yellowstone Public Radio

The U.S. Senate on Wednesday passed a landmark bill to permanently fund public lands management programs and maintenance in national parks.


Full funding for a federal purse that supports local conservation projects seems a step closer to reality. A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators Mar. 4 announced presidential support for a bill to fully and permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and address the maintenance backlog for the country’s National Parks.


A report released last month from the U.S. Government Accountability Office found a majority of land purchased by the U.S. Forest Service using Land and Water Conservation funds was in the west, which goes against LWCF guidelines.

Fly fisherman stock photo.
iStock

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock Tuesday released a new five-year plan to guide state outdoor recreation policy. The Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan outlines Montana’s goals to promote the recreation industry and the jobs that support it, and to support "outdoor recreation participation for undeserved, disadvantaged and persons with disabilities."

Correction December 12, 2019: This article has been updated to include that Sen. Jon Tester is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Environmental advocates and political leaders across Montana are pushing for full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million, an amount the country hasn’t been close to since 1998.

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