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Recreation infrastructure often is supported by LWCF funding, providing access to hunters and anglers. Photo by Lew Carpenter

Boat ramps, bathrooms, public open space, picnic tables, recreation infrastructure – simple things we often forget about until we can’t use them (due to pandemics or lack of maintenance). The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) often is a little-known financial backbone for communities that support hunters, anglers and outdoor recreation users in their wild pursuits.

LWCF generates new jobs, creates new opportunities for recreation and provides fuel for state and local economies. For more than five decades it has helped create and maintain parks, hiking and biking trails, ballfields, waterfront access, hunting and fishing access and so much more in nearly every county in the United States.

Since inception in 1965 LWCF has pumped $219,100,000 into Louisiana’s vast recreation and wildlife infrastructure.

When Congress created the Land and Water Conservation Fund in 1965, it devised a funding mechanism that would use offshore oil revenues instead of taxpayer money. The fund is entitled to receive $900 million a year, but only twice in its history has it received the full amount since Congress usually diverts funding to non-conservation projects. The permanent full funding bill currently coursing through Congress will finally remedy that situation so the Land and Water Conservation Fund will be able to reach its full potential.

Recently permanently authorized, but not fully funded – I know, it makes no sense – LWCF is in the crosshairs of current federal legislation. And, there are many reasons why you should care.

Since its inception in 1964, the LWCF program has established many of our nation’s most coveted public lands that generate billions of dollars for state and local economies. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, outdoor recreation supports $778 billion in annual consumer spending and 5.2 million jobs across the country. While LWCF enjoys broad support for these clear economic benefits, the program relies on a standing account of the United States Treasury which is subject to constant diversions from its intended purpose.

Permanent authorization of LWCF in 2019 was an important step in addressing these issues, but it did not ensure that all of the funds identified for LWCF are used for their intended purpose. This underfunding has created a backlog of conservation and recreation access needs in every state across the country. Therefore, Congress must pass legislation now to provide full and dedicated funding for LWCF at the authorized level of $900 million.

Bassmaster Magazine Editor James Hall lands a nice keeper redfish in the marsh

Lowering your boat to the river or marsh by rope without a launch sucks. So does erosion at epic scale making access difficult at best. We need public infrastructure now more than ever. We need to keep people hunting, fishing, recreating and we need to support communities that support our sport!

Recreation infrastructure development provides jobs, too, in places that will badly need them in the coming years. So now, when Congress is rightly focused on how to stimulate the economy, many leaders are realizing that one of the solutions is right in front of them. 

Across the country there are scores of shovel-ready projects just waiting for LWCF funding. These projects will provide jobs in construction, restoration and conservation. That in turn will provide additional opportunities for American families to get outside to hunt, hike, bike, camp, fish and pursue many other outdoor recreation passions. According to the Trust for Public Land, every dollar invested in LWCF returns at least $4 in economic benefits. For an investment of $900 million, that’s a $3.6 billion return.

While often unknown, LWCF funding supports access and habitat improvement to areas like Delta NWR in the bird’s foot of the Mississippi River Delta. Photo by Lew Carpenter

LWCF has helped support some of Louisiana’s most beloved public places. The list of major projects funded by LWCF in Louisiana includes:

Federal Public Land Investment ($143,000,000):

Atchafalaya NWR

Bayou Cocodrie NWR

Bayou Sauvage NWR

Big Branch Marsh NWR

Black Bayou NWR

Bogue Chitto NWR

Cane River Creole NHP

Cat Island NWR

Delta NWR

Grand Cote NWR

Isle Dernieres

Jean Lafitte NHP

Kistachie NF

Lake Ophelia NWR

Louisiana Black Bear NWR

Red River NWR

Southeast LA NWRs Tensas River NWR

Upper Ouachita NWR

Forest Legacy Program ($340,000)

Habitat Conservation, Sec. 6 ($500,000)

American Battlefield Protection Program ($450,000)

State Program, Total State Grants ($74,900,000)

Total: $219,100,000

To get a detailed look at LWCF investment in Louisiana since the 60s, see here: http://projects.invw.org/data/lwcf/grants-la.html

Now is the time to recommit this investment in conservation and restoration to begin the economic healing from the pandemic. Providing full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund will produce jobs for the unemployed, provide new parks and hiking trails for our health and well-being, and stimulate our local economies with new recreation opportunities for generations to come.

Anglers rely on recreation infrastructure to access Louisiana’s vast waterways. Here, Eric Cosby yanks a fine redfish from Louisiana waters.
Photo by Lew Carpenter

So when that big bruiser of a redfish crushes your lure, the sea trout stack up in your cooler, the call from offshore gifts you with a cow yellowfin tuna, or taking that brace of blue winged teal – after thanking the hunting and fishing gods, tip your hat to a quiet American program that supports communities in their ability to support you. It matters.

Click Here to Support Permanently Funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund >>

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Photo by Lew Carpenter

WASHINGTON, DC — New legislation aimed at updating one of the nation’s foundational hunting and angling programs will strengthen wildlife management and conservation across the United States. The National Wildlife Federation urged Congress to swiftly enact the Pittman-Robertson Modernization Act.

“Ensuring a future where wildlife thrive depends not only upon our ability to restore habitat and confront threats like invasive species and disease, but equally upon our ability to engage more and diverse participants in our outdoor heritage,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “The National Wildlife Federation enthusiastically supports Representative Scott, Representative Veasey, Representative Duncan, and Representative Dingell’s bipartisan efforts to advance both of these critical conservation goals and urge swift passage of the Pittman-Robertson Modernization Act.”

The legislation, introduced by Congressman Austin Scott, Republican of Georgia, and colleagues, would support important programs to recruit, retain, and reactivate hunters by allowing Pittman-Robertson hunter education funds to be used for hunter outreach and recruitment programs as well.

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Washington, D.C. – May 1, 2015 –Leaders in the recreational fishing and boating community yesterday highlighted the

Lew Carpenter with 6.5-pound flounder. Access and habitat rely on re authorization of Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

Lew Carpenter with 6.5-pound flounder. Access and habitat rely on re authorization of Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.

progress in elevating the importance of saltwater recreational fishing in the nation’s primary law governing marine fisheries management. The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources yesterday approved a bill sponsored by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), H.R. 1335, to reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), which addresses top priorities of the recreational fishing community.

These priorities were identified by the Commission on Saltwater Recreational Fisheries Management, also known as the Morris-Deal Commission after co-chairs Johnny Morris, founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, and Scott Deal, president of Maverick Boats. In 2014, the Morris-Deal Commission released “A Vision for Managing America’s Saltwater Recreational Fisheries,” which includes six key policy changes to produce the full range of saltwater recreational fishing’s social, economic and conservation benefits to the nation.

“The recreational fishing community owes a debt of gratitude to Chairman Rob Bishop and Congressman Don Young for incorporating meaningful changes to recreational fisheries management into the reauthorization of the nation’s marine fisheries law,” said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Coastal Conservation. “The Morris-Deal Report set forth a vision for the future of saltwater recreational fishing, and this bill would help to achieve that vision.”

“The nation’s 11 million saltwater recreational anglers have a $70 billion economic impact annually and support 450,000 jobs,” said Mike Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association. “However, federal marine fisheries management has never sufficiently acknowledged the importance of recreational fishing to the nation. H.R. 1335 would enact many of the necessary changes to elevate saltwater recreational fishing to the level it deserves.”

The recommendations of the Morris-Deal Commission include:

– Establishing a national policy for recreational fishing
– Adopting a revised approach to saltwater recreational fisheries management
– Allocating marine fisheries for the greatest benefit to the nation
– Creating reasonable latitude in stock rebuilding timelines
– Codifying a process for cooperative management
Managing for the forage base

“Management that emphasizes conservation and abundance, and allows for consistent access to public resources for saltwater anglers, was at the heart of the recommendations made by the Morris-Deal Commission,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “Including those recommendations into legislation aimed at improving our nation’s fisheries management means Congress is recognizing the importance of angling to American culture and our economy.”

“The broad coalition of leading recreational fishing and boating organizations that has come together to support our community’s priorities should be pleased with this bill,” said Jim Donofrio, executive director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance. “RFA is proud to have participated as part of this coalition.”

One of the recommendations of the Morris-Deal Commission was addressed by an amendment offered by Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.) that would prompt a review of quota allocations in fisheries in the South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico with both a commercial and recreational component. Despite the tremendous importance that allocation decisions have in maximizing the benefits that our fisheries provide to the nation, federal fisheries managers have not revisited allocations – most of which were determined decades ago – primarily because of a lack of clear guidance on how decisions should be made and because these decisions are inherently difficult.

“Congressman Duncan’s amendment is a significant achievement for ensuring that the benefits of our nation’s fisheries are maximized,” said Jeff Crane, president of the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. “For far too long, allocations have been rusted shut, and we applaud Congressman Duncan for his leadership on this critically important issue.”

A separate amendment offered by Congressman Garret Graves (R-La.) that would transfer management Gulf of Mexico red snapper to the five Gulf states failed to be included. However, there was widespread agreement expressed by committee members that Gulf red snapper management is broken and in need of significant changes.

“Rep. Graves is a great leader for sportsmen and women in the Gulf Coast,” said Angers. “He understands the challenges of sound resource management and is working to get anglers back on the water.”

“We hope that as MSA moves forward there will be additional opportunities to enact the Gulf states’ plan,” said Patrick Murray, president of the Coastal Conservation Association. “MSA’s reauthorization surely has a long road ahead, but H.R. 1335 provides the recreational fishing community with a very solid first step.”

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The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) is the sportfishing industry’s trade association committed to representing the interests of the entire sportfishing community. We give the industry a unified voice, speaking out on behalf of sportfishing and boating industries, state and federal natural resource agencies, conservation organizations, angler advocacy groups and outdoor journalists when emerging laws and policies could significantly affect sportfishing business or sportfishing itself. ASA invests in long-term ventures to ensure the industry will remain strong and prosperous, as well as safeguard and promote the enduring social, economic and conservation values of sportfishing in America. ASA also gives America’s 60 million anglers a voice in policy decisions that affect their ability to sustainably fish on our nation’s waterways through KeepAmericaFishing™, our angler advocacy campaign. America’s anglers generate over $48 billion in retail sales with a $115 billion impact on the nation’s economy creating employment for more than 828,000 people.

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The National Wildlife Federation’s Sportsmen Initiative invites you to attend the 2014 Nebraska Fishing Trip. Your event fees will support NWF’s work with hunters and anglers to conserve fish and wildlife habitat and protect our sporting heritage.

Brian Bashore, NWF Board Director and professional walleye guide (thewalleyeguides.com) heads up this great event.

Brian Bashore, NWF Board Director and professional walleye guide (thewalleyeguides.com) heads up this great event.

Experience:
Fishing – 2 full days of Nebraska’s finest walleye and trout fishing
Golfing – on what might be the world’s most undisturbed golf course
Learn about NWF’s sportsmen programs and the Nebraska Wildlife Federation
Meet NWF’s new CEO/President, Collin O’Mara          

What:   2014 Nebraska Fishing Trip

Where: The Prairie Club

When:  October 16 – October 19th

Time: Thursday, the 16th, starting at 5 pm Happy Hour. Sunday, check out

Please see the flyer and the response card for more information on how to register to attend. See you in the Sandhills!

http://www.nwf.org/Sportsmen/Events.aspx

 

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Group sends letter saying protecting wildlife and habitat will yield economic recovery for the Gulf

(New Orleans – May 22, 2013) Today, more than 350 hunting and fishing businesses and organizations sent a letter to the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, asking that the Council prioritize restoration of the Gulf ecosystem in order to also achieve economic restoration in the region.

The Restoration Council is a multi-state, multi-agency group that has been tasked with developing a comprehensive ecosystem restoration plan for the Gulf. The Council is currently developing the plan, with a draft due for public comment this spring.

Vanishing Paradise drafted the letter, which illustrated that hunting and fishing are major economic drivers in the Gulf and are supported by habitat restoration and wildlife conservation. In 2011, in the five Gulf states alone, nearly 8.5 million hunters and anglers spent $15.7 billion on their outdoor pursuits. This spending supports more than 255,000 jobs and generates $3.3 billion in federal, state and local taxes.

The letter to the Restoration Council united thousands of sportsmen and women in their commitment to protect wildlife and habitat.

“If the wild spaces of the Gulf region aren’t protected and restored, sportsmen and women will lose the return on their long-standing investment, and the region will lose its rich hunting and angling heritage,” the letter stated. “A restored and productive Gulf ecosystem is essential for both regional and national economic recovery and growth. Every dollar spent on ecosystem restoration helps the recovery of the Gulf’s natural resource-based economy.”

“The Gulf Coast is a national treasure that is near and dear to the hearts of sportsmen and women across the country,” Ben Weber, national sportsman’s coordinator for National Wildlife Federation said. “Millions of Americans enjoy the productive Gulf landscape for its fisheries and waterfowl hunting every year, but without substantial investments in projects that create, enhance or protect essential wildlife habitat, the world-class hunting and fishing opportunities that make the Gulf such a special place for the nation’s hunters and anglers will suffer, leading to the loss of billions of dollars in generated revenue for the Gulf states.”

For more information, please visit www.vanishingparadise.org.

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New report addresses recreational and commercial fishing apportionment

Alexandria, VA – January 30, 2013 – For many years, the sportfishing industry has called for a reexamination of the outdated and inequitable allocations of many marine fisheries that are limiting recreational fishing participation which has an economic impact on the coastal 20130130-112118.jpgcommunities it supports. The report released today by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) – “Marine Fishery Allocation Issues: Findings, Discussion, and Options” – summarizes how saltwater fisheries have historically been apportioned between recreational and commercial fishing and provides options on how to improve the allocation process.

“Allocation has been the 800 pound gorilla in the room during fisheries management discussions, however, we’re hopeful that this new report will help spark a renewed interest in revisiting these issues,” said American Sportfishing Association (ASA) President and CEO Mike Nussman. “Many biological and socioeconomic changes have taken place in saltwater fisheries, from rebuilding fish stocks to more people fishing in saltwater. We appreciate that NMFS has started the important process of revisiting current allocations, many of which are based on decades-old criteria.”

In fisheries with both a recreational and commercial component, fisheries managers are required to allocate a percentage of the harvestable fish to each sector in a manner that is “fair and equitable,” as described in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Many recreational anglers believe that these fixed percentages are highly subjective and favor the commercial sector. For example, despite studies that show the economic benefits of shifting a greater proportion of the Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery to the recreational sector, approximately 300 commercial boats take 51 percent of the total harvest every year, while hundreds of thousands of recreational anglers are allocated the remaining 49 percent.

“Clearly the current piecemeal approach hasn’t worked and has left many anglers and industry members frustrated by the level of inaction,” said Nussman. “This report provides valuable insights and suggestions that NMFS and the Regional Fishery Management Councils should act upon, including the need for formalized guidance on issues to consider when making allocation decisions. This must be the next step, and NMFS must take the lead, working with Councils and stakeholders, to develop this guidance.”

Nussman concluded, “Allocation decisions are inherently difficult, but we can no longer allow that to be an excuse to keep outdated allocations in place. There are too many jobs at stake to continue down the path of inaction.”

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THEIR BUDGET
The Romney-Ryan Budget Would Gut Programs Most Prized by American Sportsmen: The Romney-Ryan budget could cut funding for conservation and outdoor recreation programs by nearly 20 percent – including those that conserve waterfowl habitat, assess fish stocks, eradicate invasive species, and set land aside for recreation and conservation.

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The Romney-Ryan Budget Would Cut Funding for Hunting Grounds: The Romney-Ryan budget could cut the funds needed to manage the National Wildlife Refuge System, which conserves some of the most important hunting grounds in North America. This is just more of the same from Paul Ryan, whose budget last year also eliminated all funding for these very programs. In fact, 31 Sportsmen organizations opposed the budget that Ryan authored and Romney embraced, stating its provisions “strike directly at America’s longstanding tradition” of fish and wildlife conservation.

THEIR REAL RECORD
Mitt Romney Quadrupled Fees on Purchasing or Carrying Firearms: After taking office as governor of Massachusetts, Romney drastically increased fees for firearms dealers, ammunition licenses and more.
Mitt Romney Tried to Raid Sportsmen Funds: As governor of Massachusetts, Romney tried to raid the fish and game fund created from hunting and fishing license fees and used to conserve wildlife across the state.
Mitt Romney Increased Fees on ATVs, Snowmobiles, Boats, and Jet Skis: As governor of Massachusetts, Romney increased outdoor recreation vehicle registration and dealer fees, making it more expensive for people to enjoy the outdoors.
Paul Ryan and House Republicans are Leading an Attack on Conserving Wildlife Habitats: Under Paul Ryan and House Republican’s leadership, congress is launching the largest attack on fish and wildlife habitat in 100 years.

THEIR BROKEN PROMISES
Mitt Romney Broke His Campaign Promise to Enhance Massachusetts’ Open Spaces: During Romney’s tenure as governor, state parks were “lacking,” and outdoor advocates noted that plummeting state support was distressing the parks system.
Mitt Romney Promised Not To Raise Taxes And Instead Raised Fees On State Park Activities: Although he campaigned on a promise not to raise taxes, Romney increased fees on parking, access to piers, and recreational activities at state facilities.

THEIR “EXPERIENCE”
Mitt Romney Wasn’t Honest about his Hunting Experience and Gun Control Record: When Romney ran for the Senate in 1994, he said “I don’t line up with the NRA.” But in 2007, Romney falsely claimed to have been endorsed by the NRA when he ran for governor. He later joined the NRA only after deciding to run for President. In 2007, he claimed “I’ve been a hunter pretty much all my life” but admitted he only had gone twice.

THEIR PROPOSALS
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan Would Sell Off Public Land: Romney supports the Ryan budget, which would sell millions of acres of public land now used for hunting and fishing, handing them over to special interests – even though recreation and tourism on public lands supports more than 400,000 jobs and generates nearly $50 billion in economic activity.
Mitt Romney is Out of Touch with America’s Sportsmen: Romney has said that he doesn’t understand the purpose of federal land. He doesn’t realize that they provide hunting and fishing grounds for American sportsmen

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Washington, D.C. – Despite historical successes in bringing many wildlife species back from the brink of extinction, other species at risk have continued to decline as evidenced by the staggering numbers listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. The Continuing Resolution, HR 1, which passed in the U.S. House of Representatives, would eliminate funding for the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program, the nation’s most cost-effective programfor preventing all wildlife from declining to the point of being endangered.

“While HR 1 cut spending to many important programs, elimination of funding for the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants and the North American Wetland Conservation Fund was shocking and will be magnified because state fish and wildlife agencies and their partners use these funds to leverage tens of millions of dollars in non-federal fundsto put more conservation on the ground,” said Ron Regan, Executive Director of the Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies. “More than 12,000 species that are known to be at-risk will be put in further peril if funding is not restored to these important programs.”

The State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program provides each state and territory with an average of $1.2 million annually to conserve fish and wildlife that are in decline and may be headed towards endangered species listing.According to the Government Accountability Office, once listed, the average cost of recovery of a single species can exceed $125 million.

The proposed elimination of funding for the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program comes at a time when state fish and wildlife agencies are increasingly challenged to address the impacts of invasive species, habitat loss and degradation and the effects of climate change on wildlife.

“These extreme cuts endanger wildlife and our way of life. State and Tribal Wildlife Grants also protect jobs and local economies tied to the $45 billion wildlife recreation industry. Hunters, hikers, campers, nature watchers, natural resource managers, anglers and all outdoors enthusiasts will lose out if State and Tribal Wildlife Grants are stripped of funding”, said John Kostyack, Vice President, Wildlife Conservation for the National Wildlife Federation.

The State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program, now in its 11th year, has served as a stable federal funding source for implementing congressionally required State Wildlife Action Plans in every state and territory. Each unique Plan assesses the health of the state’s wildlife and habitats and outlines the actions needed to conserve species of greatest conservation need and the full array of wildlife over the long term.

“Even in these difficult financial times when we all must shoulder some of the burden, we still need to ensure wildlife and vital habitats are conserved for the benefits they bring to Americans through cleaner and healthier environments and the legacy we leave for future generations,” said Michael Hutchins, Executive Director/CEO of The Wildlife Society. “Congressional funding for State and Tribal Wildlife Grants also goes hand-in-hand with job creation and economic sustainability since more than half a million U.S. jobs center around wildlife conservation and wildlife-related recreation.”

Funding for the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program is supported by the Teaming With Wildlife coalition, a national coalition of 6,300+ conservation organizations and nature-based businesses including state fish and wildlife agencies, hunters and anglers, birdwatchers, hikers and other conservationists.

For more information about State and Tribal Wildlife Grants and State Wildlife Action Plans, go to http://www.teaming.com.

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The 6,300+ member Teaming With Wildlife coalition (www.teaming.com) is working to prevent wildlife from becoming endangered by supporting funding for wildlife conservation, education and nature-based recreation.

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