We are blessed in Central Oregon with some of the finest outdoor opportunities anywhere — hiking, skiing, biking, fishing and hunting. Friends continually share their praise for the Bend area and wish they could also live here.

It’s important to understand that many of the special places we enjoy were made possible by a law passed 50 years ago. The Land and Water Conservation Fund was created to reinvest money from offshore drilling projects to help protect our country’s natural resources. No taxpayer dollars are involved.

The LWCF has supported more than 41,000 park projects. One such project was Bend’s 45-acre Sawyer Park alongside the Deschutes River. Another example was the expansion of the Gilchrist State Forest, adding sustainable jobs in one of our state’s most economically challenged areas. A current funding request would help protect the integrity of the Crooked River.

Each year the government is supposed to set aside $900 million for LWCF projects, but often those funds are diverted. In the history of the program, over $17 billion has been diverted. And, now for the first time, the House of Representatives is proposing to eliminate all funding for this program.

In Oregon, LWCF has funded over $260 million dollars to protect our treasured public lands. This helps sustain over 141,000 recreational jobs, generating nearly $13 billion dollars to our economy, according to the Outdoor Industry Association.

Please tell Congress to support LWCF. At the end of the day, it’s the right thing to do.

Brian Jennings