Vail Daily letter: Carrying on a legacy | VailDaily.com

Vail Daily letter: Carrying on a legacy

Many people may not realize that a U.S. Senate conference committee is working through a package of legislation called the Energy Policy Modernization Act. This bill contains a suite of provisions critically important to Colorado's hunters and anglers including important components of the Bipartisan Sportsmen's Act and permanent reauthorization for one of our country's most successful natural resources programs, the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Both Sen. Bennet and Sen. Gardner are staunch advocates for Land and Water Conservation Fund, but I am writing today to highlight a specific success story.

At the end of August, I participated in a river trip with Sen. Bennet ("Bennet floats through Eagle County," Vail Daily, Aug. 26) to highlight a collaborative effort he helped facilitate between Eagle County and the Bureau of Land Management to secure Land and Water Conservation Fund funding for the acquisition of the State Bridge, Two Bridges and Dotsero Landing parcels. While we discussed many issues important to Colorado's sportsmen and women, this unique effort in Eagle County is a perfect example of how Land and Water Conservation Fund can do so much more than protect lands for fish and wildlife habitat; it also expands and enhances safe public access to places like the Colorado River in perpetuity. The Land and Water Conservation Fund has funded over 41,000 national projects with matching grants to help states and local communities protect parks, wildlife habitat, watersheds that provide clean drinking water and create recreational opportunities like hunting and fishing access that boost local economies — all without spend a penny of taxpayer money. Instead, funds for Land and Water Conservation Fund come from offshore oil and gas royalties.

The clock is ticking on the Land and Water Conservation Fund and permanent reauthorization would ensure that this broadly supported bipartisan program is here to stay forever. Let's hope Christmas comes early this year and Congress sends the Energy Policy Modernization Act to the president with the Land and Water Conservation Fund intact … it's the best present we could give to future generations of Coloradans that are counting on us to pass down this American legacy of public access, healthy fish and wildlife populations, wild public lands and clean waters.

John Gale

Conservation director, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers