BOZEMAN – Senator Steve Daines said recent reports that claim a 54-year-old federal land program—which protects public land in Montana, including Yellowstone National Park—could disappear are completely untrue.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund is a program that uses offshore gas and oil revenue to purchase and increase access to public lands across the entire nation. It has been in place for decades but recently expired in September.
“So this program has been absolutely crucial over the years,” said Montana Wildlife Federation Executive Director Dave Chadwick. “It has meant hundreds of millions of dollars for acquiring public land in Montana and supporting all of the reasons why we enjoy the outdoors.”
Senator Steve Daines was one of the key people trying to make the fund permanent earlier this month. But due to the government shutdown, negotiations fell short. Due to this, revenues continue to be collected but transactions to acquire new land stand still.
“It takes years to put together these deals,” said Daines. “Private landowners, the state, the federal government coming together. And when you have the federal government, the United States Congress, not getting its job done, it creates uncertainty. And consequently, who loses when there’s uncertainty? The American people lose.”
Over the lifespan of the LWCF, $16 Billion has been given to states and federal agencies to buy millions of acres in Public Lands. Critics of the fund believe it isn’t being used how it was originally intended and needs a lot of reform.
Daines confirmed the Fund will make its way in front of Congress in the first few weeks of the 2019 session.
Reporting by Mederios Babb for MTN News