Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) and The Conservation Alliance delivered a letter to Congressional offices today asking all members of Congress to support reauthorization and full, dedicated funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) on this, the 50th Anniversary of both Land and Water Conservation Fund Act and the Wilderness Act. The letter was signed by 151 outdoor companies including manufacturers, distributors, retailers, outfitters, guides, small family businesses, entrepreneurial start-ups and international companies who rely on America’s public lands and waters for the success of their businesses.
LWCF was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on September 3, 1964 to protect and provide recreational access to our nation’s irreplaceable outdoor spaces. Under the Act, a small percentage of federal lease royalties from natural resource extraction in our nation’s Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) are to be invested in conservation and outdoor recreation. Yet, since its enactment, in every year except for one, LWCF has seen a majority of its funds diverted to other, unrelated purposes despite the fact that recent polling shows that 85 percent of American voters want and expect the nation to continue to invest in LWCF.
A second letter with 149 company signatures was also sent to Congress today urging action on the many Wilderness and public land bills that have been introduced, but are languishing in Congress.
Just like improved highways are important updates for the transportation system, new public lands designations upgrade our recreation infrastructure and provide certainty for local businesses that can invest in the area for recreation based tourism.
“These investments, which do not come from taxpayer dollars, are essential to outdoor companies, our customers, and the health and vitality of urban and rural communities,” said Aaron Carpenter, VP Global Marketing at The North Face, OIA Member and Conservation Alliance Board Member. “The outdoor industry, which generates $646 billion annually in direct consumer spending, contributes $80 billion a year in federal, state and local taxes, and supports more than six million American jobs, recognizes the value of our nation’s public lands and waters as well as the infrastructure surrounding these special places and hopes Congress does too.”
“The 50th anniversary of LWCF is an historic opportunity for Congress to insure full funding of LWCF at $900 million annually.” said Frank Hugelmeyer, President and CEO of OIA. “The outdoor industry, and the 140 million Americans who participate in outdoor recreation each year want to see this long-term solution established and expect Congress to take a serious look at the Wilderness and public lands bills that have local and bipartisan support.”
“Wilderness is the highest level of protection we can place on our federal lands,” said John Sterling, Executive Director of The Conservation Alliance. “For 50 years, Congress has used the Wilderness Act has to preserve our most iconic wild lands, and they have the opportunity to safeguard more places for their recreation and habitat values.”
The outdoor industry hopes that Congress will use this once-in-a-generation opportunity to protect the public lands and waters that support outdoor recreation so we can look forward to another 50 years of growing the health of communities and the American economy.
Outdoor Industry Association
Kate Fielder Jenkins
Logo courtesy Outdoor Industry Association