Some of life’s most important lessons aren’t taught in a classroom but imparted around a campfire, hiking on a trail, rafting on a river or standing on top of a mountain.

Those of us in the outdoor industry have a special relationship to the land — a reverence really — because it’s not only the source of our livelihood, but our first love and inspiration.

That’s why we were alarmed when America’s most important conservation program, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), expired last September.   

Across the country, the mountains, lakes, forests and streams that surround us aren’t just scenery, they are a part of our identity and help to define who we are.

Steve Rendle

For more than 50 years, LWCF has provided Americans with the assurance that our nation’s outdoor treasures will be protected and passed on to the next generation. It is also our nation’s best and most valuable tool to ensure we all have access to public lands.

LWCF has endured for half a century with bipartisan support: reinvesting the royalties from offshore oil and gas development to permanently conserve the places where we play. Most impressive is the fact that the program doesn’t use a dime of taxpayer money as it is funded entirely from royalty payments.    

While the uncertainty about LWCF has been troubling, there is growing optimism about LWCF’s future thanks in large part to Colorado’s senators.

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

Sen. Michael Bennet and Sen. Cory Gardner have been at the forefront of preserving this vital program and working to ensure the permanent and full funding promised for LWCF as it was intended.

Their years-long work resulted in the recent Senate passage of a critical public lands package that included a permanent reauthorization of LWCF and several measures important to Colorado’s parks, trails and lands.  

We are now on the verge of preserving the LWCF for generations to come as the lands package awaits a vote in the House of Representatives.

At VF Corporation, we are committed to strengthening our public lands and we support the swift passage of the permanent reauthorization of LWCF.

And we appreciate the longtime bipartisan commitment to this program and other vital outdoor conservation programs from Colorado’s congressional delegation.

Steve Rendle is the Chairman, President and CEO of VF Corporation, one of the world’s largest apparel, footwear and accessories companies.

Steve Rendle

Special to The Colorado Sun Twitter: @VFCorp