Public Lands & Waters photo

On July 23 the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill that would eliminate all but $20 million of the Land and Water Conservation Fund’s (LWCF) $900 million budget–money earmarked for conservation projects across the nation.

Established by congress in 1965, the LWCF uses royalties generated from oil and gas production on federal leases to help acquire and maintain public lands in order to protect clean water, wildlife, and public land access. But since its inception, legislators have been siphoning money from the LWCF into the government’s general fund, despite escalating revenues from offshore oil production. According to the Land and Water Conservation Fund Coalition, congress has fully funded the program only once in its 48 year history.

In this piece for Montana’s Bully Pulpit, the first in a three-part series, Field & Stream‘s Conservationist blogger Hal Herring illustrated the damage that the latest reduction would cause by highlighting a Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation project to acquire land along Tenderfoot Creek–a critical tributary of Montana’s famous Smith River–with LWCF funds.

Check out the first installment in the series on the purchase of the Tenderfoot Creek in the Smith River watershed of Montana here:

Photo courtesy of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.