Land and Water Conservation Fund good for business

By NANCY PFUND

Since its creation in 1964, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has been responsible for the creation and maintenance of ballfields, community trails, national forests, and wildlife refuges, including some of our nation’s most iconic national parks in the Rocky Mountains, Grand Canyon and Great Smoky Mountains.

But today, this successful program is at serious risk, as it will expire on Sept. 30 unless Congress acts this month.

LWCF has been instrumental in ensuring that our most treasured wild places are safe and protected, but that’s not the only benefit the policy provides.

LWCF is a job creator, and brings enormous economic benefits to communities all over the country.

Conservation isn’t just good for business growth – it fuels teamwork and innovation essential to compete in the global economy.

Companies engage in team-building exercises in the outdoors, host employee family events there and encourage employees to experience the spectacular landscapes that can provide the inspiration those employees bring back to work with them.

We’ve also seen firsthand that successful, driven employees place a high value on outdoor recreation, making proximity to public lands and national monuments a major selling point for companies that want to recruit the best and brightest employees — a critical requirement for success.

Earlier this year, the workforce and career-building company The Muse found in a national survey of over 4,000 employees at fast-growing companies that nearly 70 percent of respondents said that access to outdoor recreation was either important, very important or extremely important to their lives outside the office.

Even more striking, nearly 25 percent said it was important in making their decision to accept their current job. In addition to fueling the growth of business large and small, national parks give a shot in the arm to local economies. The Outdoor Industry Association’s Outdoor Recreation Economy Report shows that outdoor activity annually accounts for $887 billion in consumer spending and 7.6 million American jobs.

Business leaders know that public lands are essential to the bottom line of their companies and the growth of our economy.

As the overwhelming bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress demonstrates firsthand, conservation is not a Democratic issue nor a Republican issue — it is an American issue.

The House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and Ranking Member Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) partnered to shepherd a bill through Congress that would reauthorize LWCF. For the sake of our parks, it is vital that it pass immediately.

Our national public lands are the embodiment of our nation’s entrepreneurial spirit. By protecting them we are helping to preserve our heritage for our children and future generations, and supporting economic growth and American economic competitiveness.

Nancy Pfund is a co-chairwoman of the Conservation for Economic Growth Coalition, an advocacy group made up of founders of fast-growing entrepreneurial companies and venture capitalists. Pfund and 58 fellow national business leaders, investors, and venture capitalists recently signed a letter urging Congress to reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

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