As an angler and a bird hunter, I cherish opportunities to float Oregon’s beautiful rivers and explore my state’s wide open spaces. Part of that exploration process is poring over maps or using my GPS to navigate the polygons of privately- and publicly-owned land to find the places I can access. Until a couple of years ago, I didn’t know that the Land and Water Conservation Fund is responsible for some of our state’s best public access. Now that I understand what LWCF does, and why it’s so important to fish and wildlife, I’ve been working to rally support for reauthorizing this critical fund, which is due to expire at the end of the month. And I’m not alone. Recently, 114 hunting and fishing industry business leaders voiced their support for the LWCF. Read on to find out why Fishpond founder Johnny LeCoq felt so strongly about signing our letter to Congress.
First, a brief history. The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was established in 1965 as a bipartisan commitment to a simple idea: Invest a small portion of federal offshore drilling fees towards protecting important land, water, and recreation areas for all Americans to support the outdoor economy. Since its inception, the fund has been used to invest over $16 billion in conservation and outdoor recreation, including the establishment of new public fishing areas, new corridors into previously inaccessible public lands, conservation easements and the acquisition of new public land parcels for the benefit of fish, wildlife, and the sporting public.
Find out about projects funded in your state by clicking here.
This fund is due to expire, and without reauthorization from Congress, we will lose critical conservation dollars. This July, I attended IFTD to build business support for LWCF. At the show, I met Johnny LeCoq, founder and CEO of Fishpond and Lilypond, which are brands designed and manufactured for the fishing and outdoor enthusiast. Johnny has created his company with the philosophy that innovation, design, and a responsibility towards the environment are critical to the success of his business.
Johnny knows why LWCF is so important and why Congress needs to fully fund it. This is what he had to say at the North American Wildlife Conference last year:
“The economics behind LWCF demands that we get the full funding appropriated for our natural resources. It is critical to my own business that depends on our watersheds, and just as important to every individual that values our open space, and public access for so many forms of recreation and enjoyment. The public access component of LWCF is crucial for the future of our hunting and fishing industry,” he said.
Here’s the vision Johnny shared for the next 50 years of conservation work in America: One of collaboration. No longer can we look to Washington or our state governments to pave the necessary path for a sustainable future. We need to create private-public partnerships that leverage the strength of both sectors. From businesses like Fishpond to the private landowners who are willing to place their farmland or ranchland into conservation easements, we need to find valuable partners who will help tell the story of how our public lands and waters are linked to a growing economy and uniquely American way of life.
Johnny encouraged the entire Outdoor Recreation Industry, where thousands of companies are represented, to help lead the push for full funding of LWCF—and not to stop there. “It is the responsibility of these American businesses to use the power of their consumer reach to raise additional funds to augment a shortfall of the hundreds of millions of dollars in conservation needs,” he said. “Government funding and taxes alone will not be enough to get us through our environmental challenges, and it will be important for companies like Fishpond to creatively join forces with government and non-profit groups to collaboratively reach our goals.”
If you’re like me and Johnny, please tell Congress to fully and permanently reauthorize the LWCF and protect hunting, fishing, and the recreational industry for years to come. It’s easy to do. Just click here.
Recently, 114 hunting and fishing industry business leaders, voiced their support for the LWCF. Read on to find out why Fishpond founder Johnny LeCoq felt so strongly about signing our letter to Congress.