Congress needs to reauthorizing Land and Water Conservation Fund first thing | AspenTimes.com

Congress needs to reauthorizing Land and Water Conservation Fund first thing

With elections behind us, Congress is reconvening for its lame duck session. One of its first orders of business should be to permanently reauthorize our nation's most successful outdoor recreation program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

Over its more than 50 years, the LWCF invested more than $16 billion in protecting valuable habitats, expanding access to America's public lands, and supporting local projects for outdoor recreation. Close to home, LWCF has helped Colorado with investments of more than $268 million — from protecting the Ophir Valley above Telluride, to securing key inholdings at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, to supporting the community Riverwalk in Pagosa Springs.

LWCF has done this without busting the federal budget — relying on revenue generated by the success of America's energy sector, not taxpayer dollars. Yet despite bipartisan support and a long track record of success, congressional gridlock allowed the LWCF to expire Sept. 30, 2018.

Protecting our outdoor resources isn't just about the environment and our quality of life — it is also an investment in our state's economy. Outdoor recreation in Colorado generates a whopping $62.5 billion in economic activity and supports 511,000 jobs. For businesses like Mayfly, the great outdoors is our corporate infrastructure, allowing us to invest in our companies, our workforce and our communities.

Sens. Michael Bennet and Cory Gardner and Congressman Scott Tipton have supported permanent reauthorization of LWCF. Now it is time for them, and the rest of Congress, to finish the job and #SaveLWCF.

David Dragoo

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