Thanks for all the Fish!

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As the Bully nation knows, we’re huge fans of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester both have been outstanding champions when it comes to helping secure funding for this program that pays for a lot of fishing access sites, new public hunting grounds and helps conserve working landscapes like the Blackfoot Valley and the Rocky Mountain Front.

It’s no shock to us to see Senator Baucus get kudos at the National level for his tireless advocacy for access for hunters and anglers, and sound funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. We’ll add a tip of our Stormy Kromer to Max along with the LWCF Coalition. Well done Senator Baucus!

If you want to know more about how LWCF has helped Montanan’s access public water and wildlife, check out our Sportsman’s Atlas and select the LWCF layer. We've just updated it with 20 more LWCF sites around the state, and we’re working on adding more each month.

Here’s the press release in its entirety:

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NEWS RELEASE
LWCFCoalition.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 27, 2013
CONTACT: Nicole Doss, TPL, 202-368-8902, Nicole.doss@tpl.org


SENATOR BAUCUS RECEIVES ‘GREAT OUTDOORS CHAMPION’ AWARD FOR LEADING THE FIGHT TO RESTORE THE LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION FUND

Washington, DC – Montana Senator Max Baucus last night received the Great Outdoors Champion Award for working to restore revenues from offshore oil and gas development to the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), rather than being diverted for other purposes.

The LWCF is the nation’s premier conservation program, helping protect parks, wildlife refuges, forests, rivers, trails, battlefields, and urban parks for current and future generations. Over the last four decades, Montanans have invested approximately $417 million from LWCF to expand public access to streams, conserve working ranches, and protect iconic landscapes like the Crown of the Continent. Nearly 70% of Montana’s Fishing Access sites were created with LWCF.

“Senator Baucus is a champion for the simple and powerful principle that a portion of revenues from offshore oil and gas development – not taxpayer dollars – should go to states like Montana to expand access for hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation opportunities,” said Nick Gevock of the Montana Wildlife Federation. “Now is the time for Congress to stop diverting LWCF to unrelated spending and to restore those investments to the Montana communities that want to grow their outdoor economies and protect their way of life.”

Senator Baucus, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), and Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) are the bipartisan sponsors of S.338, a bill that would fully fund LWCF. The legislation, titled the “Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act of 2013,” is supported by a broad coalition of conservation and recreation organizations and outdoor industry businesses and has 29 cosponsors in the U.S. Senate, including Senator Jon Tester of Montana – who is also a strong supporter of LWCF.

By fully and permanently funding LWCF at its authorized level of $900 million per year, the legislation would foster federal, state, and local conservation investments that boost tourism, expand recreation spending, protect water quality, insulate communities from natural hazards, sustain agriculture and forestry on private lands, provide habitat for fish and wildlife, and improve the quality of life that draws businesses and workers to communities. LWCF is also essential to make public lands public by securing recreation access, particularly where opportunities for sportsmen and others to access public lands are currently limited or precluded.

If Senator Baucus, Senator Tester and others are successful in standing up for LWCF and passing S.338, it will have an immediate and lasting impact on the state. Here’s what’s on the line for Montana in the 2014 budget, alone.

Ø Completing the Montana Legacy Project. In 2008, the Plum Creek Timber Company agreed to sell 310,000 acres of forest lands in western Montana to help conserve the heart of the 10 million acre Crown of the Continent region. The deal is among the largest conservation projects in American history and will ensure that prime hunting and fishing habitat and working timberlands will remain open and accessible forever. The 2014 budget proposes to use $31 million of oil and gas revenues through LWCF to complete the last phase of the project, which is a transfer of former Plum Creek Timber lands, teeming with wildlife, in the Swan Valley to the Lolo and Flathead National Forests.

Ø Expand Hunting and Fishing Access in the Blackfoot Valley. Since 2003, local communities and non-profits have been working together through the Blackfoot Community Challenge to conserve 89,000 acres of former timber lands and to expand opportunities for hunting, fishing, hiking, and outdoor recreation. The 2014 budget proposes to invest $2.6 million to complete the last major piece of the project by expanding the Blackfoot River Special Recreation Management Area, which provides public fishing and rafting access to 34 miles of the Blackfoot River and Wolverine Creek and hunting opportunities in the surrounding lands.

Ø Conserving Working Ranchlands in the Crown of the Continent. Ranchers in the Blackfoot Valley, the Rocky Mountain Front, and the Swan Valley are working together and using conservation easements to protect their way of life and the open landscapes for which Montana is known. The 2014 budget proposes that $12 million of oil and gas revenues through LWCF be used for conservation easements to help ranchers conserve their lands and keep their operations strong. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works in close partnership with the 5th and 6th generation ranchers to support their efforts to provide healthy habitat for Montana’s world-class trout runs and big game.

Ø Protecting Glacier National Park from Development. The 2014 budget proposes to use $1 million of oil and gas revenues through LWCF to acquire six parcels of privately-owned land in the Big Prairie area of Glacier National Park, along the North Fork of the Flathead River. Acquiring these inholdings from willing sellers will protect Glacier National Park from private development within its boundaries and preserve the backcountry character that draws nearly 2 million visitors to the park each year. Visitors to Glacier National Park spend nearly $100 million each year in the park and local communities.

Ø Conserving Elk Habitat for Public Access near Tenderfoot Creek. Montana sportsmen are nearing completion of a multi-year project to conserve prime elk, moose, and trout habitat in the Tenderfoot Creek drainage for public use access. The 2014 budget proposes to use $3.2 million of oil and gas revenues through LWCF to complete the 8,000 acre project and ensure permanent public access to the lands as part of the Lewis and Clark National Forest (LCNF).

Ø Protecting the Nez Perce and Lewis and Clark National Historic Trails from Development. The 2014 budget would use $1.6 million to provide public access and protection to the confluence of the Missouri River and Cow Creek, where both the Nez Perce and Lewis and Clark National Historic Trails converge. The land is the site where Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce crossed the Missouri River in 1877 on their way to Canada to avoid being confined to a reservation. If conserved for hunting, fishing, recreation, and cultural and historic tourism, visitors will also be able to experience the same remote, untrammeled character of the land that Lewis and Clark experienced when they passed in 1805 and 1806.

The LWCF Coalition comprises conservation, recreation, business, and sportsmen’s groups working together to support the LWCF program in order to meet America’s conservation and recreation needs in the 21st century. For more information on LWCF and the places in each state that have been protected using LWCF funds, visit www.lwcfcoalition.org.

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Hellgate Hunters and Anglers
Our Mission is to conserve Montana's wildlife, wild places, and fair-chase hunting and fishing heritage.