The RESTORE Act could significantly advance protection and restoration of the Gulf region’s unique and precious habitats. Photo by Dusan Smetana.
Key sportsmen’s groups called on Congress to maintain provisions for funding land conservation and restoration in the Gulf Coast region as it negotiates a final transportation bill.
In a teleconference, representatives of the Berkley Conservation Institute (Pure Fishing), Ducks Unlimited and the Louisiana Wildlife Federation outlined the critical importance of ensuring that the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the RESTORE Act provision included in the Senate version of the bill are retained during the conference negotiations.
“The Gulf Coast region, in particular the wetlands, barrier islands and bayous around the mouth of the Mississippi River in Louisiana, is a true sportsmen’s paradise,” said Jim Martin, TRCP board member and conservation director for the Berkley Conservation Institute. “But what few realize is that many of the best public hunting and fishing opportunities in the great national wildlife refuges were protected by funds generated from the offshore oil and gas development in the Gulf through the Land and Water Conservation Fund.”
“The Gulf Coast ecosystem has been greatly impacted by oil and gas development that has been used by the entire nation for decades. The Land and Water Conservation Fund is the logical compensation for those impacts, and, working in tandem with the RESTORE Act, we might have the means to significantly advance protection and restoration of the Gulf region’s unique and precious habitats,” commented Paul Schmidt, chief conservation officer with Ducks Unlimited, a TRCP partner group.
A House and Senate conference committee is currently debating two versions of a transportation bill in the hope of finding agreement on one final package before the current authorization expires on June 30. The LWCF/RESTORE provision was passed as an amendment on the Senate floor by an overwhelming 76-22 bipartisan vote.
Hunters, anglers and other recreational users who care about the Gulf Region are invited to let their social networks know that preserving this special area depends on funds from LWCF to protect land through easements and purchase. Go to WhyWeLoveLWCF.org for details.
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