A Low Point for Protecting Wildlife and Wild Places

September 30, 2015 will go down as a low point in the history of the conservation movement in the United States of America. Congress allowed the Land and Water Conservation Fund to expire.

Pilot Mountain State Park, North Carolina

Pilot Mountain State Park, North Carolina. One of North Carolina’s most distinctive natural features, Native Americans called Pilot Mountain “Jomeokee”, meaning “great guide.” Photo by Visit NC.

The Land and Conservation Fund was created in 1964 based on a simple, but brilliant idea: when we extract natural resources out of land that belongs to the public, we should invest a portion of the proceeds back into our public lands. So for 50 years it’s been protecting National Parks, National Forests, National Wildlife Refuges, State Parks, State Forests, and even soccer fields, ballparks, and greenways. All without using a single dime of taxpayer money.

An Effective Program for Protecting Wildlife

Wilson Creek, North Carolina

Wilson Creek, North Carolina. Dear to the hearts of North Carolina’s trout anglers and center of North Carolina’s fly fishing history and traditions. Photo by Ken Thomas wikimedia.

As North Carolina Senator Richard Burr has often repeated, the Land and Water Conservation Fund is “dollar for dollar the most effective government program that has ever existed”. But Congress allowed the most effective conservation program in the history of the Country to die. One of the most frustrating aspects of this loss is that there is more than enough bipartisan support in the both the House and Senate to reauthorize this program. So it’s not necessarily the fault of any one political party that this program is expiring, rather a function of the complete and total dysfunction of our current legislative process. The system is broken.

We’re Not Giving Up

This is a setback, but we’re not giving up. We will be back. We will find a way to continue protecting land and water for this and future generations and we look forward to helping our champion, North Carolina’s Senator Richard Burr in accomplishing this!

Guest Author Tim Gestwicki

Tim Gestwicki NCWFTim Gestwicki is CEO of the North Carolina Wildlife Federation (NCWF) with over 20 years in non- profit conservation work.  A sportsman who helped lead the building of an elite, formidable conservation organization recognized for effective and efficient work statewide, regionally and nationally, Tim has established a one of kind wildlife habitat coalition comprised of sporting and land conservation groups to work in unified fashion on agriculture, farm bill and private lands habitat efforts; and has initiated new wildlife habitat programs for developers, places of worship, and islands.  Tim enjoys hunting and fishing in NC from the mountains to the coast.

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