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On Thursday during a House Natural Resources Committee hearing, I voted for the permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The amendment had bipartisan support and only partisan opposition, yet it failed 16-22. Looks like I have 22 meetings I need to set up. Better yet, I would like to invite the 22 members who voted against LWCF to take a hike.  I invite each and every one of them to come out to Montana, hike one of our beautiful trails, and see what the program supports. The LWCF program funds important projects like new public fishing areas, hiking trails, and increased access for hunters and anglers. Enjoying our land is part of who we are in Montana and it is a multibillion dollar part of our economy.

I’ve always been a defender of our public lands. This past spring I voted against my own party, against a budget plan that called for selling public lands. And then again on the House Floor I voted with Democrats to bar public land sales because open access to our public lands is a Montana tradition that I am proud to uphold. Montana is the last best place – we aren’t going to maintain that without maintaining our lands.

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 I’m a fifth generation Montanan. I grew up in Whitefish. I know what is at stake if we lose this critical resource. I’ve been fighting for LWCF reauthorization since my first day in Congress. I’ve spoken to leaders on both sides of the aisle in the Committee and personally appealed to the Speaker of the House. Montana’s bipartisan Congressional delegation is united in support for LWCF. The American people support LWCF. Advocacy groups like Rocky Mountain Elk, Business for Montana’s Outdoors and the Montana Wilderness Association all have come together to support LWCF. This isn’t about politics, it’s about Montana. It’s time Congress gets on board.

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— Rep. Ryan Zinke, R-Montana

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