In Wausau, Baldwin pushes for conservation fund renewalSubmitted: 09/11/2018
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter

In Wausau, Baldwin pushes for conservation fund renewal
WAUSAU - A national conservation group keeps an up-to-the-second counter on its website.

As of Tuesday, it reads 19 days left until the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund expires.

That means hundreds of millions of dollars are at risk of disappearing from projects for parks, trails, rivers, and forests.

The fund takes money from federal oil and gas leases in the ocean and gives it to conservation projects. It needs congressional approval to continue before it expires at the end of the month.

"Without the Land and Water Conservation Fund, we would really be struggling in terms of maintaining those traditions and bringing them to the next generation," said said U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) on Tuesday.

Baldwin talked with sportsmen at a roundtable in Wausau.

She's confident Congress will act to renew the fund by the end of the year. But she worries it might miss the September 30 deadline, which would leave a gap in conservation funding.

"We just want to make sure that those funds are perpetually available for making sure that there's public access to public lands and that we protect our natural resources and wildlife habitats," Baldwin said.

Outdoor spaces can have an economic impact, too.

William Koepke told Baldwin about his small business in Stevens Point, called Rekt. He relies on quality natural spaces for outdoor athletic coaching.

"Rekt is looking to bridge the gap between traditional health and fitness training, strength and conditioning, along with all of our wonderful outdoor spaces," Koepke said.

Koepke supports reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

He needs outdoor resources for his business. But he's also fighting for them for his dad, who survived a heart attack two years ago. Koepke's father is an avid outdoorsman.

"Show me another 56-year-old post-heart attack that's doing that kind of work," he said. "It's because of these public lands, these waterways, this access that we have that gave him the reason to kind of get back in the saddle and keep pushing."

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