Maine's North Woods property is on The Wilderness Society's priority projects list for 2014.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
When it comes to increasing access to the great outdoors and bolstering rural economies, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is one of the most important and successful tools Americans have. The LWCF, funded entirely through offshore oil royalties, conserves irreplaceable lands and improves recreational opportunities for enjoyment by all Americans.
Each year as part of the President’s Budget request, federal agencies release a list of projects that have significant conservation value and are ready for funding from LWCF.
From this list, The Wilderness Society has selected 28 featured projects which are particularly important due to the unique opportunities these projects provide to conserve treasured wildlife habitats and recreational areas. Our priority list highlights projects that:
- Protect existing wilderness and add to existing public lands
- Safeguard areas for potential future designation
- Present opportunities within Wilderness’ priority landscapes
- Provide management efficiencies
These projects complement and help maintain broad grassroots support from local communities, ranging from the scenic cliffs of northern California to the historic longleaf pine forests of Tennessee.
Thanks to LWCF, ranchers, farmers and forest owners are provided with the flexibility to find the best management options for their land. Important wilderness areas are opened for public benefit while also sustaining ranches and working forests. This is done by operating in joint federal, state, local, and private partnerships.
One of the projects spotlighted on Wilderness’ LWCF priority list is the 8,000 acre Cold Stream Forest of Maine. This North Woods property is a refuge for native and threatened wildlife and has attracted generations of hunters, naturalists, and fishermen.
Maine's Cold Stream Forest is home to Canada Lynx and important threatened wildlife. Photo: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, flickr
The rural economies of nearby communities depend on this ecosystem, but development pressures in this region have put their livelihoods at risk. As a Forest Legacy Program project, LWCF will partner with the current landowner to maintain the forest’s significance as a source of timber for local mills while protecting sensitive habitat areas.
Our LWCF priority list also features locations renowned for their cultural heritage. Located in Southwestern Colorado, Canyons of the Ancients National Monument contains the highest concentration of ancestral Puebloan sites in the nation. If completed, this project will allow for the continued research of unique archaeological resources from the American Southwest, as well as the conservation of outstanding scenery and riparian resources for threatened aquatic species.
Ancestral Puebloan structure at Canyons of the Ancients. Photo: GOC53, flickr
In addition to enhancing public access, this project will complement prior conservation efforts and increase the efficiency with which these significant lands are managed.
Unfortunately, many of these projects are in jeopardy if Congress fails to approve sufficient funding this year and reauthorize the LWCF before it lapses in 2015.
The program requires zero public tax dollars, and in fact helps to save money by creating a network of landscapes that can be managed more effectively and efficiently than a patchwork of public-private lands. It is imperative that these opportunities are not lost.
While development will continue, LWCF gives Americans a rich balance between natural, protected spaces and the development required for a healthy economy. At the heart of LWCF’s mission is the need to fulfill our nation’s demand for livable, resilient communities and the conservation of public lands that make them possible.