The SLCA Pays a Visit to Washington D.C.
October 1st, 2015
This month SLCA Executive Director Julia Geisler and Board Member Nate Smith joined forces with other leaders from human-powered recreation groups from across the nation to pay a visit to Washington D.C.. This is the second time this year that the SLCA has met with Utah Representatives on the Hill. The effort was organized by the Outdoor Alliance – whose mission is to unite the voices of paddlers, mountain bikers, hikers, climbers, and backcountry skiers to conserve America’s public lands and protect the human-powered outdoor experience.
It is important for the SLCA to have a presence in D.C. because other interests, including oil and gas as well as motorized sports, are actively present and well represented. When climbers come together with bikers, hikers, paddlers, backcountry skiers, and the Outdoor Industry Association, we have a stronger voice to lobby for conservation and recreation.
This trip specifically involved asking for the continuance of funding for the Land Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The LWCF reinvests a portion of the royalties from off-shore oil and gas leasing in targeted land acquisitions and projects in support of conservation and outdoor recreation. Typical LWCF acquisitions would include places such as private inholdings in National Forests and National Parks, or parcels that facilitate access to broader landscapes of public lands. For example pieces of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail could be purchased with these funds. Unfortunately Congress did not add the LWCF to the Continuing Resolution. We will continue to ask Congress to reintroduce the LWCF here.
The second ask we made to our Representatives was to not entertain consideration of the State taking over public lands. National Forest and Bureau of Land Management lands in the west are home to 71% of climbing, 43% of paddling, 193,500 miles of hiking trails, and 12,659 miles of biking trails. Public lands belong to all Americans and State lands belong to the State. While we recognize the need to better manage and fund public lands, we still want ownership of these lands.
Lastly, and maybe most important to those of us who live, work, and play in the Central Wasatch, was the ask of our Representatives to support the federal land designation recommendation that will come from Mountain Accord. We need federal land designation protection in order to maintain a balance between the health of our watershed, the pressures of private enterprise, and the expectation of our population doubling in the next 20 years. The SLCA will support the recommendation from Mountain Accord when it is proposed to Congress.
The Salt Lake Climbers Alliance continues to be the voice for Wasatch climbers here at home and in D.C. We are working hard to protect the places you love to play.