Calls on Congress to Permanently Reauthorize, Fully Fund LWCF
Durango, CO - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today visited Iris Park in Durango and took a walking tour of the Animas River Trail and Schneider park to highlight some of the recreation and park projects completed with funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Standing alongside Durango Mayor Christina Rinderle, La Plata County Commissioners Julie Westendorff and Brad Blake, Durango Mayor Pro Tem Dick White, and several other local officials, conservation leaders and Durango business owners, Bennet once again called on Congress to permanently reauthorize the LWCF. Bennet concluded his tour with a stop in Backcountry Experience an iconic local business that thrives from Durango's strong recreation economy.
"Colorado's open spaces are crucial to local economies throughout our state, and particularly in places like Durango where tourism and outdoor recreation are big economic drivers," Bennet said. "The LWCF has helped communities complete important conservation projects like the Animas River Trail that not only help create new jobs, but also protect the environment and our quality of life. This Fund is one of our most successful conservation programs, helping rural and urban communities alike. The Senate recently passed a version of our bipartisan bill to permanently reauthorize the LWCF. Now the House needs to act and we need to fully fund the LWCF so we can provide certainty to Colorado communities."
"The Land and Water Conservation Fund has helped make Durango what it is today," said Mayor Christina Rinderle. "It has been our partner in our decades long effort to build a vibrant community full of parks and trails. LWCF has been crucial to our recent efforts to expand and improve our Animas River Trail. That trail is essential to who we are as a community as it takes us every day to our beloved Animas River. In Durango many of our daily commutes are by bike or by foot, and often our route is along the banks of the Animas River and through the parks that LWCF helped us create. We appreciate Senator Bennet's work in the Senate to get the LWCF reauthorized and fully funded so we can continue to utilize it to make Durango an even better community."
"The Land and Water Conservation Fund has helped La Plata County invest in preserving treasured hunting, fishing and wildlife areas, and to develop local parks - all of which contribute mightily to our community's quality of life and our visitors' experiences here," said La Plata County Commissioner Gwen Lachelt. "These are tangible benefits that we all enjoy and appreciate."
"Osprey Packs Inc. would like to sincerely thank Senator Bennet for his exemplary work to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund as well as for being such a stalwart ally and friend to outdoor recreation, the outdoor industry, and our public lands throughout his tenure," said Sam Mix, Conduit of Corporate Outreach for Osprey Packs, Inc. "Our business is outdoor recreation and as the outdoor industry leader in technical pack design and manufacturing, the Land and Water Conservation Fund is important to Osprey and deserves our support because it conserves irreplaceable lands and improves outdoor recreation opportunities throughout the nation. Osprey's dedication to create innovative, high performance gear reflects the brand's love of adventure and our heartfelt devotion to the outdoors and it is encouraging to have the support of Senator Bennet in seeking full and dedicated funding of the LWCF."
"LWCF is America's best parks program, and it has had incredible results for our state. By supporting outdoor projects in nearly every Colorado county, LWCF has been an incredible boon to rural communities like those on the West Slope where I live, work, and play," said Michal "Micha" Rosenoer, West Slope Field Manager for Conservation Colorado. "By fighting for LWCF, Senator Bennet is fighting for both our economy and our way of life. The great outdoors are what make Colorado so great, and we need more leaders like Senator Bennet who will work to ensure that these priorities are heard in our nation's capital."
"The Land and Water Conservation Fund has played an important role in creating the great quality of life we have here in southwest Colorado," said Jeremy Garncarz of The Wilderness Society based in Durango. "The program has increased access to public lands for hunting and fishing, enhanced our treasured National Parks like Mesa Verde and Canyons of the Ancients National Monument and helped create the Animas River Trail here in Durango. Protecting our land and water is not a Democratic or Republican issue; it is an American issue and one that we should be able to work together on. Congress should follow the Senate's lead and permanently reauthorize and fully fund this program."
LWCF has benefitted the southwest region in various ways in recent history, including an easement to protect water quality on the Uncompaghre, the Orphir Valley project, and the Red Mountain project. The Animas River Trail is one of Colorado's most recent recipients of LWCF funding. The project has received $533,482 since 2008 to construct a shared-use path that provides access to a variety of parks, open spaces, and other trails throughout the community. LWCF has funded over $875,000 in projects in Durango and close to $1.5 million in La Plata County. Over the past five decades, Colorado has received more than $276 million to protect places like the Great Sand Dunes National Park, Arapahoe-Roosevelt National Forest, and Canyon of the Ancients National Monument.
Since coming to the Senate, Bennet has fought to strengthen the LWCF. Last year, he introduced a bipartisan bill with Republican Senators Richard Burr of North Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire to permanently reauthorize the LWCF, which was recently passed by the Senate as part of a bill to update the country's energy policies. He has also fought to fully fund the program.