Montana Public Radio

Land and Water Conservation Fund


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.

The BLM bought 7,300 acres of former timberland in the Belmont Creek area near Missoula.
Courtesy BLM

A land conservation group says it has helped ensure that 7,300 acres of land in western Montana’s Blackfoot River corridor remains in public hands.

The Nature Conservancy says the acquisition, just east of Missoula in the Belmont Creek area, is due in large part to funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. LWCF uses royalties from offshore oil and gas development to fund outdoor projects.

A Nature Conservancy representative points out portions of the land that make up the Clearwater-Blackfoot Project in the Blackfoot Valley. January 2015.
Christopher B. Allen / Montana Public Radio

The U.S. Interior Department approved a plan to purchase 7,300 acres of former private timber lands northeast of Missoula. 

The former Plum Creek Timber company property was acquired by The Nature Conservancy in 2014. And now, as part of a deal several years in the works, that non-profit is selling it to the Bureau of Land management for $5.6 million.

Montana Sen. Steve Daines speaks during a City Club Missoula forum in Missoula, August 12, 2019.
Edward O'Brien / Montana Public Radio

Montana’s Republican U.S. senator maintained his opposition to gun control legislation during his appearance Monday at a Missoula luncheon.

Some in the audience vehemently disagreed with his position.

A U.S. House committee on Wednesday advanced a bill to permanently and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The bill, sponsored by Democratic Representative Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, would make $900 million available for expenditure annually.

The LWCF uses royalties from offshore oil and gas development to buy lands and make them public, and to fund other outdoor amenities, like fishing access sites along the Missouri River in Montana.

Sen. Jon Tester takes questions from the audience at a town hall meeting in Missoula June 21, 2019.
Kevin Trevellyan / Montana Public Radio

Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Jon Tester met with constituents at a town hall event Friday in Missoula. About 150 people packed into one of the meeting rooms in Missoula’s Holiday Inn Parkside Friday to interact with Tester.

The town hall was an open door event with no invite needed. It was his second in person town hall of the year and his ninth since President Trump took office.

The Blackfoot River near Belmont Creek.
Josh Burnham (CC-BY-NC) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/

13,000 acres of land in the lower Blackfoot watershed may become public.

Tuesday, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released an environmental assessment on a proposal to do that in collaboration with The Nature Conservancy. A 30-day public comment period to evaluate the impacts of acquiring the land is now open.

Pages