On April 9, Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Vice-Chair Senator Joe Manchin (WV) and CSC Member Senator Cory Gardner (CO) introduced S. 1081 to permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).
LWCF was first enacted in 1965 to provide funding for voluntary, collaborative recreation and conservation projects on public and private lands. Since enactment, LWCF has provided $17.5 billion in funding for over 40,000 recreational and conservation projects in every county in the country. LWCF is authorized at $900 million annually, however, Congress has only fully appropriated the authorized amount one time since the program was established. S. 1081 will permanently fund LWCF at $900 million for federal, state, and local recreation and conservation projects.
Earlier this year, President Trump signed into law S. 47, the John Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, which permanently reauthorized LWCF without dedicated funding. S. 47 included a provision within the permanent reauthorization of LWCF (Sec. 3001) that requires 3% or $15 million – whichever is greater – of funds appropriated to LWCF be made available for the purpose of securing additional access for hunting, fishing, recreational shooting, and other outdoor related activities (see Making Public Lands Public Initiative). Recent studies estimate there are nearly 10 million acres of public lands in the west that are open to sporting activities, but the general public is currently unable to access these due to a number of reasons. If enacted, S. 1081 would provide $27 million to increase public access for sportsmen and women to lands and waters that are currently inaccessible.
S. 1081 has been referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee where it awaits further action.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?