Readers’ opinion: Montana’s $7.1B outdoor economy relies on reauthorization of LWCF

Our business is one of the many contributing to Montana’s outdoor economy, which generates $2.2 billion in wages and salaries, $7.1 billion in consumer spending, $286 million in state and local revenue and supports 71,000 jobs. Those numbers and our business model are directly related to the outdoor recreation economy.

When so much business is on the line, it’s disheartening that Congress has failed to reauthorize one of the most successful and widely beneficial policies that affect our outdoor economy in Montana.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund expired September 30, 2018, and while there is movement to revive it, our businesses and communities should not be left in limbo waiting for something that has been lauded as bipartisan, and which should have been a no-brainer for the leaders in Washington.

Now that the elections are over, the hard work of legislating lies ahead for our elected officials and it’s our hope that they take this opportunity to work across the aisle under the unifying platform of Montana’s public lands – specifically for reauthorizing and funding LWCF.

In nearly every community in the state, we see the impacts of LWCF, which has provided funding for our trails, community parks, recreation hubs, and access through public land easements for the past 50 years.

Senator Daines has spoken out in favor of LWCF, and so have all members of our delegation. We hope that the promise to Montanans will be kept, bringing specific actions to get legislation through Congress and on to the President’s for permanent reauthorization and full funding of LWCF. Montana businesses like ours are watching, and waiting for action.

Maggie Carr and Yve Bardwell own Dropstone Outfitting in Choteau.