Dave Skinner is a good shot at the local rifle range, but missed by a mile in his assessment of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (Jan. 9 Beacon: “Lost to the General Treasury”).
Dave tends to see nefarious “Greens” around every corner. He says LWCF is an “entitlement” to environmentalists, using a word that generally is used to describe programs like Medicare or Medicaid. That’s grossly misleading. Who is losing because the 53-year-old LWCF is high-centered on Beltway partisanship and incompetence? The American people. Including us in the Flathead.
Dave’s column fails to mention one important point: where does LWCF money go anyway? It does not go to environmental groups. It goes to you. You may be surprised to learn that some of your local favorite places were paid for by LWCF dollars.
- Like to cool off with a beer and jet ski at Foys Lake on hot summer afternoons? The new access on the north end of the lake was paid for by LWCF.
- Like to take your kid fishing at the family fishing ponds, say like the one on Shady Lane near Old Steel Bridge? Once again, thank LWCF.
- Want to spot a whitetail or a black bear? The Swan Valley is a great place for that. It would be shot through with even more trophy homes and no-trespassing signs if it were not for LWCF.
- Enjoy riding your mountain bike, your horse or exercising your dog on the network of trails at the Whitefish Trails or the Foys to Blacktail trail network or Lone Pine State Park? LWCF has helped make those places what they are.
- Do you ever put a raft, canoe, inner tube or drift boat on a Montana river? More than half of the fishing access sites in the state were purchased with LWCF dollars.
- Do you swim in a public swimming pool or tennis court or picnic in a city park anywhere in Montana? You can bet LWCF helped pay for those features.
- Do you wish more of our local forests were open to active management to support mill jobs and jobs in the woods? LWCF has a Forest Legacy program that seeks that same goal.
Now, Dave Skinner can call these “entitlements for Greens” if he wants, but he’s wrong. All Montanans greatly benefit from LWCF and ALL Americans are basically getting robbed when the fund is held hostage in Congress.
As Montana grows and attracts more visitors, LWCF is a crucial tool to keeping our economy strong and protecting our way of life.
Thankfully, Montana Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines and Rep. Greg Gianforte are leading the nation in kick-starting LWCF and getting this important law back on the books. They get it.