The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is urging the U.S. Senate to approve permanent reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

“We applaud Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines for their efforts in advancing the LWCF out of committee toward a full Senate vote,” said David Allen, RMEF president and CEO. “This funding is crucial in assisting our ongoing efforts to permanently protect and provide public access to important habitat for elk and other wildlife.”

Now in its 50th year, the LWCF helps conserve wild and undeveloped places, cultural heritage and benefits fish, wildlife and recreation. Its funding comes from royalties paid by energy companies drilling for oil and gas on the Outer Continental Shelf. The royalties bring in $900 million annually, most of which is diverted to other federal programs.

Senator Tester (D-MT) pointed out to members of the Senate Appropriations Committee that the original 2016 version of the bill included just $292 million for LWCF, $14 million below the levels from a year ago. He went a step further by calling on committee members to fully fund LWCF at $900 million but was voted down.

Senator Daines (R-MT), a member of the same committee, then pushed for an amendment restoring LWCF levels to 2015 levels while also ensuring four critical Montana LWCF projects receive full funding. The bill will now be considered by the full Senate.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund is set to expire on September 30, 2015.