"Our community works hard to protect its rural and wild character. The Land and Water Conservation Fund has been a big help in doing that. America benefits when it invests in clean water, productive land and wildlife habitat. I support full funding of the LWCF. It's a small investment with a very big dividend."

- Melanie Parker
Outfitter and member of Swan Valley School Board, MT





Obama supports outdoor enthusiasts by protecting land, water

As a lifelong angler, hunter, former congressman and founder of Berkley Fishing Tackle Company, I am proud to serve on the Iowa Sportsmen for Obama Council because I share President Obama's vision of preserving our outdoor heritage and treasured landscapes. Sportsmen have much at stake in this election and that is why we need to re-elect President Obama - someone who truly understands our values, our way of life, and is committed to making these opportunities available for my children and grandchildren.

When I was just 16, I started my own fishing tackle business in Spirit Lake, Iowa. After returning home from World War II, my fishing tackle business expanded to hundreds of employees. Through my success in the industry, I was able to continue my passion for the outdoors while creating good paying jobs here in Iowa.

My experiences provide a unique perspective of both the economic and cultural importance of Iowa's outdoor industry and the impact these activities create for Iowa. In 2006, the most recent available data, about 552,000 Iowans participated in hunting activities and another million Iowans enjoy wildlife watching, generating nearly a billion dollars in economic activity for our state. Not only is this an important part of our culture, it is a huge economic force, as well.

Conserving our land and preserving it for future generations has always been a bipartisan tradition dating back to the days of President Teddy Roosevelt. This new Republican Party, led by Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, is no longer the Republican Party I served with in Congress. Our way of life is under assault by Republicans who attack conservation programs and strive to replace them with policies that pollute and damage wildlife habitats that are vital to the game we hunt and the waters we fish. Farmers, especially here in Iowa, are some of our best conservationists and have a history of preserving our habitat and open spaces. That is why President Obama is working with farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices on millions of acres of land. Here in Iowa, his investments are helping farmers improve the water quality of the Mississippi River, a key resource that drives our local economy.

President Obama recognizes the tradition of hunting - which is passed on from generation to generation - as part of our national heritage. He has fought for full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The president's record stands in clear contrast to the anti-sportsmen records of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. As governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney quadrupled fees on purchasing or carrying firearms. The Romney-Ryan budget would gut funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund, which has conserved more than 72,000 acres of wildlife habitat critical for waterfowl in Iowa. Their budget also slashes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is the nation's most important program for preservation of public lands we depend on for fishing and hunting.

America's sportsmen have a clear choice in this election. President Obama's proven leadership in protecting our national landscape and increased investments in conservation are ensuring future generations will have access to the same hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation that I have been privileged to grow up with in Spirit Lake. A Romney presidency will turn back the clock on our progress. President Obama understands Iowa's values and I am proud to stand by him in this election.

Democrat Berkley Bedell represented Iowa's 6th District for six terms (1975-1987) in the U.S. House of Representatives.