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Reader: Reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund

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After completing four years of service as an Air Force officer, I jumped at the chance to spend 3½ months traveling across the North American continent. From Alaska to Mexico, California to Texas, Florida to Minnesota, I explored parts of our public lands in 22 states. Since then I've also been to the highest points in all 50 states, most of which are found on public lands, and I have visited 41 countries.

These experiences have shown me that Americans' ownership of public lands is unique and something to be proud of, and many of these public lands would not be public without the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Although not everyone may be familiar with the LWCF, it has been providing funding for public land conservation and recreational infrastructure projects across the country for a half-century.

However, if Congress does not act, the LWCF will expire on Sept. 30. Established in 1964, the fund does not use taxpayer dollars. Instead, earnings from offshore oil and gas leasing go to federal, state and local governments to acquire and protect forest, water and wildlife areas. As a lifelong hunter, I'm particularly aware of the fund's importance for facilitating conservation of valuable fish and wildlife habitat and improving public access for hunting and fishing.

In Congress, Sen. Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, and Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington, have been leading a bipartisan push for the permanent reauthorization of the LWCF. Time is running out. If you value public spaces afforded by the LWCF, make your voice heard and contact your elected officials.

— David Lien, Chairman, Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers

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