Tester joined by Montana sportsmen and business leaders to demand Congress reauthorizes LWCF

Tester: Congress is undermining Montana’s economy and our outdoor way of life

(U.S. Senate) – Hours before it is set to expire, Senator Jon Tester today was joined by Montana sportsmen and business leaders to demand that Congress reauthorizes and fully funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

At midnight on September 30, LWCF is set to expire for the first time since it was enacted in 1965.

“Montanans use the Land and Water Conservation Fund to increase access to hike, hunt and fish on our public lands,” Tester said. “The new majority has already attacked the funding for LWCF, and now they are threatening to block Montanans from our next outdoor adventure.”

“The Land and Water Conservation Fund is the best public access program America has. The track record is proven. Montanans, and all Americans, cherish our public lands; public lands that provide access, recreation, and are a driving force in our economy,” said Montana sportsman and host of “Fresh Tracks” Randy Newberg. “It is inexcusable for the fringe elements of Congress to derail such a successful program. When a few in Congress force their narrow anti-access ideology on America, we all lose; our business lose, our wildlife loses, and our children lose.”

“The common thread among our businesses is the belief that our public lands are an important competitive advantage that separates Montana from the rest of the nation. LWCF is a crucial program for outdoor recreation, but it also helps sustain tens of thousands of jobs in Montana that rely on outdoor recreation and public lands access across the state,” said Marne Hayes Director of Business Montana’s Outdoors. “Failing to reauthorize is not only a disappointment, but also a detriment to our thriving economy and spirit of entrepreneurship in Montana.”

“Access – and lack thereof – is the No. 1 reason sportsmen cite for forgoing time afield. More than half of Montanans hunt and fish, and increasingly people are moving here to enjoy our great state and its abundant public lands,” Land Tawney President and CEO of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. “Failure to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund would result in the loss of our best, most effective tool to address the problem of diminishing public access.”

Over the past five decades, LWCF has invested $540 million to support outdoor recreation and increase public access to public land in Montana.

LWCF is not paid for with taxpayer dollars but is instead funded with receipts from offshore oil and gas development. It funds land acquisition and conservation, making purchases only from willing sellers. LWCF is critical to preserving unique hunting and recreation areas throughout the United States.

In June, Tester introduced an amendment to the Interior Appropriations bill that would boost funding for LWCF to $400 million in 2016, but that amendment failed on a party line vote.

Tester is a sponsor of a bill to permanently reauthorize the LWCF, and today he sponsored a bill that would extend LWCF for 60 days while Congress reaches a long term deal.