Protecting the future of America’s wild places

Places like the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, and Yosemite are well known. Places like Ironwood Forest, Hurdygurdy Creek, and the Crooked River might not have that same name recognition, but each have unique natural values as wild places we must protect.

In order to do that, Congress needs to step up.

From red rock canyons to towering forests and alpine peaks, the wild places of the United States are some of the most treasured in the world.  And today, millions of acres of wild lands stand protected from mining, drilling, and development.  These places are protected because we had the foresight to set them aside and keep them for future generations.  Once again, Congress has the ability protect more of these special, wild places for generations to come by supporting the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

Since 1964, LWCF has been at the forefront of protecting wild places in the US. Iconic places like California’s Big Sur coast and Acadia National Park have been created and improved because of the program.
Among the places that should be protected this year are wild rivers, epic trails, and even a petrified forest! These places can become a part of the American tradition of protecting wild landscapes now and in the future.

Read more about The Wilderness Society’s 2013 priority LWCF areas.

Lands that are protected through the Land and Water Conservation Fund become parts of National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, state and local parks, battlefields, and National Monuments.  They become places for kids and families to enjoy our natural and cultural heritage.

Places like Ramirez Canyon in California show how important the Land and Water Conservation Fund can be when it is used in the right place at the right time.  An addition of just 110 acres to the Santa Monica National Refuge Area will connect several disjointed wild areas, and protect an invaluable trailhead for hikers.

Another project will improve hunter and angler access for the Crooked River in Oregon, helping to create new opportunities for people to enjoy the great outdoors.  And more than 7,500 acres at the head of the legendary Penobscot River in Maine would be protected, improving wildlife habitat.

Investing in the Land and Water Conservation Fund each year is not just about protecting wild places, it’s also about jobs and growing our economy.  The outdoor recreation industry – hikers, bikers, hunters, anglers, skiers and paddlers – is a $730 billion a year industry.  The backbone of this economic engine is having places to go to get outdoors, and making sure all Americans have access to the places they want to go.  The Land and Water Conservation Fund does both.

Congress now has an opportunity to make sure that the next generation of wild places is protected while at the same time creating jobs and supporting our economy.  And as it turns out, the Transportation bill that is currently being debated in Congress would do just that. Written into the Senate passed version of that bill is guaranteed funding for the Land and Water Conservation program – ensuring that the Land and Water Conservation Fund will continue its legacy of land protection, outdoor recreation access, and the farming and ranching way of life for the next two years.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund has a fifty year history of protecting iconic wild places.  Congress should do the right thing, and make sure that this popular and bipartisan program can continue to protect the next generation of wild lands.

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