Gianforte Votes to Slash the Land and Water Conservation Fund Budget

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On Thursday, Congressman Greg Gianforte voted for a package of spending bills that cut the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) fund by $65 million dollars.

While Gianforte voted against increased spending to investigate the myriad ethics violations happening in Secretary Zinke’s Interior office and for a measure stopping “federal funding for enforcement of a D.C. law that outlaws workplace discrimination based on abortion and use of birth control,” he had no problems voting against a program vital for conservation in Montana.

You don’t have to take the word of a liberal blogger to understand the importance of LWCF. Here’s what Greg Gianforte said in February:

“I will also fight for the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund to help preserve and expand access for Montanans to hunt, fish, and recreate on public lands.”

According to his taxpayer-funded Congressional web page, Gianforte notes that the LWCF is vital for Montana outdoors recreation and revenue:

“Susan and I raised our children hunting, fishing, and backpacking on our public lands, which are central to our Montana way of life,” Gianforte said. “I signed onto this bill, because I know how important the LWCF is to Montana and support its permanent reauthorization. I will continue being a strong voice for the LWCF as it helps preserve and expand access for Montanans on our public lands.”

The LWCF does not use taxpayer funds. Instead, it directs earnings from offshore oil and gas leasing to protect water resources, conserve natural areas, and provide recreation opportunities.

Between 2005 and 2014, Montana received $240.3 million in investments from LWCF funds. LWCF funds contributed to the purchase of more than 800 recreational sites across Montana, including city parks, trails, and ballfields.

This is straight from the Gianforte playbook: when he’s back in Montana, he’ll tout his support for public lands and our recreation heritage, but as soon as he gets back to D.C., he votes to gut critical programs that serve our entire state. After all, he’s still touting his support for benefits to Montana in a budget bill he voted against, assuming that the people of Montana don’t have the good sense to check his claims.

That’s exactly what he’s hoping we’ll do this time.

Mr. Gianforte has a well-documented hostility to public lands that extends beyond his illegally blocking public access near his Bozeman home. He’s flirted with anti-public lands extremists who want to take the lands out of the hands of the people and turn them over to the wealthy few.

But to vote against adequately funding a program that costs no tax dollars, a program that improves and protects those public lands, while lying to Montanans about his support for it, is just another example of how little respect Congressman Gianforte has for our state and its values.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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