In this strange time of illness, stress, worry, and lack of certainty about what the world will look like next year, or even next month, many of us are finding sanity and solace in being outside. During the pandemic, people all over Montana are fortunate to be able to take advantage of public parks, trails, and other resources.
What many might not know is that hundreds of our parks and easily-accessible recreation areas have been made possible through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The LWCF was passed in 1965 with the mission of creating opportunities for recreation throughout communities all across the United States. It had overwhelming bipartisan support.
Our lives today are shaped in many ways by the LWCF’s legacy, ways we might not even know about. I myself learned to swim in the early 1980s at Bozeman’s Bogert Park (approved for LWCF funding in 1973). These days, my own children learn archery by practicing at Lone Pine State Park (LWCF funded in 1983, and expanded through LWCF in 2002 and 2005) outside of Kalispell. I’ve probably fished from more access points than I can count that have been funded by LWCF grants all across Montana.
This program has given generations of American families incredible opportunities for learning, health, recreation, and fun. But it’s never been fully funded. Right now, our congressional leaders have a chance to remedy that situation. Full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund is being proposed as part of the Great American Outdoors Act. I strongly urge Sen. Steve Daines, Sen. Jon Tester, and Rep. Greg Gianforte to vote in favor of the GAOA and fully fund the LWCF. Future generations deserve the same benefits that mine and others have been gifted by some of the best that America has to offer.