As America faces unprecedented uncertainty, there are still things our legislators can do that make sense, are simple to implement, and are immediately impactful. Fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund and passing the Great American Outdoors Act will create jobs and get people outdoors – both of which are incredibly important to our nation’s healing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund, arguably America’s most successful conservation program, has broad bipartisan support. It was established in 1964 and uses offshore oil and gas revenue to protect America’s natural and cultural resources. This fund provides access and recreation opportunities to millions of acres of public lands in all 50 states and almost every U.S. county. It not only includes national parks, national recreation areas, and wildlife refuges, but also local parks, trails, and ball fields benefiting virtually every American.
The Great American Outdoors Act (S.3422) includes full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and adds to that a much-needed stimulus for improving the aging infrastructure of our national parks.
My business, Dave Brown Outfitters, depends on access to healthy habitat and robust wildlife populations. In our corner of southeast Arizona, the fund has contributed to projects ranging from Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge to Saguaro National Park and future funding will support projects like the Sonoita Creek Wildlife Corridor. This corridor was identified by the Arizona Game and Fish Department as vital for the movement of endangered jaguar and other at-risk wildlife between northern Mexico and the Arizona Sky Islands and is a prime destination for outdoor recreation and wildlife watchers visiting our region.
The Sonoita Creek Wildlife Corridor provides key habitat for nine federally listed species as well as the Mearn’s quail, another species that draws visitors and boosts our local economy. Please join me in calling on Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Martha McSally, urging them to support the Great American Outdoors Act and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Make sure they understand the importance of the fund to you as an Arizona citizen and to the $23 billion annually that tourism and recreation brings to Arizona every year.
Dave Brown owns Dave Brown Outfitters in Patagonia.