Opinion

Conservation Fund Should Go Toward Conservation, Not Industry Agendas

Whit Fosburgh CEO, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

In his support of Rep. [crscore]Rob Bishop[/crscore]’s reforms to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, one of the country’s most important tools for conserving fish and wildlife habitat for the past 50 years, it seems a writer from the Center for Consumer Freedom is attempting to fracture the hunting community that supports reauthorization of the expired program in its intended form—as a fund dedicated to improving access to public lands, providing more opportunities for outdoor recreation, and reinvesting in the environment without using taxpayer dollars.

We thought readers should know that the Center for Consumer Freedom is a front-group for lobbyists dedicated to rolling back conservation and refuses to disclose its funding sources. The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, one of the sportsmen’s groups in question, is beholden to no funder. The only litmus test we ever apply is what science indicates is good for fish and wildlife and, therefore, what is good for America’s sportsmen.

Rep. Bishop points to maintenance backlogs on federal public lands as justification for shifting LWCF resources to the states and limiting federal land acquisition, but consider this: Acquiring land parcels that connect isolated public lands actually reducesmaintenance costs in the long-term. Moreover, maintenance backlogs are largely a symptom of Congress starving federal agencies of much-needed resources while focusing on bad ideas, like the wholesale transfer of federal lands to the states, rather than practical land management solutions.

Rep. Bishop’s plan would also reinvest a portion of LWCF funds in offshore oil and gas drilling—essentially subsidizing the industry while diverting money from conservation and recreation. Meanwhile, Senators [crscore]Lisa Murkowski[/crscore] (R-AK) and [crscore]Maria Cantwell[/crscore] (D-WA) have proposed bipartisan reforms to the Fund that maintain its critical role in conservation, access, and outdoor recreation.

Make no mistake, what Rep. Bishop has proposed would end one of America’s great conservation successes.