Kristyn Brady

March 16, 2017

Slashed Budget Would Cut Conservation Right Where It’s Needed Most

Gutting programs and agency budgets that support healthy fish and wildlife, public access to the outdoors, and our nation’s rich heritage will hurt rural economies

A broad coalition committed to safeguarding the future of our country’s fish and wildlife populations, outdoor recreation opportunities, and national heritage is dismayed at the deep level of cuts recommended by President Trump in an official budget request released today.

If enacted, Trump’s budget proposal would offset a $54-billion boost to defense spending by cutting foreign aid and domestic programs. This includes a proposed 12-percent decrease to the Department of the Interior budget, which is likely to slash resources needed to manage public and private lands, support state management of fish and wildlife, and enact conservation across the country. This would have devastating impacts on the ground for natural resources, historic sites, and the rural American communities that thrive off outdoor recreation and tourism spending.

“Gutting the programs and agency funding that helps conserve fish and wildlife and our sporting traditions is no way to support the rural and local economies that need outdoor recreation dollars most,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, a lead group in the coalition known as America’s Voice for Conservation, Recreation, and Preservation. “Ignoring the real benefits of investing in conservation will erode the foundation of hunting and fishing—public access and quality places to pursue our traditions.”

Trump’s budget could also shrink the federal workforce by the largest margin since World War II. “Outdoor recreation businesses drive spending and sign paychecks in rural communities, but they certainly couldn’t thrive if public lands and waters were closed or left without active management,” says Amy Roberts, executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association. “The places where America plays, and the products Americans use in the outdoors, wouldn’t exist without those other made-in-America jobs—those of the federal land managers, park rangers, and biologists who safeguard our lands and waters so we can enjoy them.”

Congress still holds the power of the purse, and hundreds of organizations and businesses are calling on lawmakers to work constructively and collaboratively on a budget that reflects the real value of outdoor recreation opportunities, fish and wildlife habitat, and preservation of America’s rich history. More than 200 AVCRP members sent a letter to Congress and to the White House asking for the strongest possible funding levels to support the conservation of America’s wildlife, fisheries, public lands, cultural resources, and associated economic and recreational benefits.

“Lawmakers should understand that cutting the budget for America’s historic preservation programs will directly affect each state’s bottom line,” says Adam Jones, associate director of government relations for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Slashing federal funding for historic preservation and National Park Service operations will negatively affect heritage tourism, limit states’ abilities to protect their most important historic sites, and blunt the economic benefits of the federal historic rehabilitation tax credit, which has preserved more than 41,000 buildings, created 2.3 million jobs, and catalyzed $121 billion in community revitalization for Main Streets throughout America.”

AVCRP first joined the federal budget debate in 2011, when sequestration threatened to undo conservation and our country’s outdoor legacy. Learn more about the coalition here.




18 Responses to “Slashed Budget Would Cut Conservation Right Where It’s Needed Most”

  1. Bill Smith

    What needs to happen as for cutting the Department Of Interior’s budget is that the entire federal agency needs to be directly Audited. There are many things the agency has undertaken over the past 10 to 20 years that have zero interest in Habitat Conservation, Restoration, Enhancement or protection there of. Many studies come to mind that are not relevant to CRP,WRP,CREP programs. Costing the agency millions every year. We need to get back to the sole primary Mission of Habitat Conservation and the implementation of that. The federal buracracy with in has grown and so has that budget to maintain that monster that sucks up valuable resources. Often such as times like these, instead of cutting the over-employment rolls or the elimination of study revenue sinkholes we maintain the workforce but cut Key conservation programs. Audit the agency and lets make cuts in the right places. USFWS is another agency that should be audited. They to are guilty of doing the same.

    I am a United States Sportsmen and I do agree with reviewing these agencies budgets and making cuts that need to be made to things that have absolutely nothing to do with Habitat Restoration, Enhancement , protection or acquisition of. Getting back to the fundamentals of conservation is going to be critical to the future of conservation itself. The same message could be applied to state agencies just the same.

    Sincerely,
    William J. Smith
    Sioux City Iowa
    5309 hwy 75n lot 44
    51108
    712-274-3343 h
    712-202-3235 c
    fhd101@aol.com

    I am open to express this fact in front of congress members.

    • Your comments are spot on. There is plenty of money for conservation projects, they need to prioritize what is important. But instead doing the right thing they go and scare people about conservation cuts. Typical big government reaction.

  2. Bloated, federal budget needs cutting badly. By cutting Interior’s budget, they can focus on the most important tasks. By cutting the budget, they can eliminate redundant jobs and shrink the bureaucracy. But, the bureaucrats never do that, instead they cut effective programs and maintain the bloated bureaucracy, then blame Congress. Swamp-draining commence !! Eliminate 75 % of the bureaucracy by combining all departments, agencies and offices that deal with America’s natural resources under ONE department and all that bureaucracy is immediately obsolete !! Billions saved !! Plenty of money for actual conservation projects !! BAM.

    • George Miller

      Wow… sad to see that the Kool Aid has done a number on you. Without conservation and protecting federal lands our environment (where you live and breathe) and sportsman opportunities are gone. Teddy Roosevelt, a true Republican, had it right and it’s simply a disgrace to see what has become of the G.O.P.

  3. Justin Matoska

    Yes, the federal budget needs to be cut badly, however its the DoD portion that needs it. Or how about consolidating all the armed forces together do you think that would solve bureaucratic issues?

  4. Joe Gilbert

    A 12 % budget cut is not gutting the agency Kristyn, enough with the inflammatory language already. As a nation we are over 20 trillion dollars in debt. The cuts need to start somewhere. I don’t know anyone who wants their pet program or agency cut whether it is Planned Parenthood, NPR or research regarding the spread rate of catsup once dispensed. Folks all think their program is critical. I agree with Bill Smith. Every federal agency should undergo a thorough audit by an impartial firm. Inefficiencies and duplication of services can be identified and eliminated. This would be more effective than across the board cuts. When your ship is sinking you plug the holes and turn on the pumps, not drill more holes. Our nation is sinking in debt. What future will our children and conservation have if we don’t turn this around.

    • Greg Kurtz

      If you want to talk about waste you can start with the largest budget the MILITARY!There is more waste and black money there than in all other agencies combined.Lets get real about where all this waste trully is. Instead of scapegoating the DOTI they should find the cuts and waste in the military first as it is by far the largest budget with the most waste.Our Natural resources are by far the most valuable asset we have so we need to focus on perserving it.

  5. Jim McGHannon

    Bill Smith…where do you get this “fact” you speak of?
    It should be NO SURPRISE what is proposed in this budget…now we want to build a wall!! not with my tax money and to gut our natural resource programs to boot!

  6. The Department of Defense, where Trump wants to spend tens of billions more dollars, is arguably the biggest, most bloated government bureaucracy in the country. I served and saw it first hand. Yet, somehow it usually seems to get a pass from political conservatives when the subject of budget belt-tightening, wasteful spending and fiscal accountability comes up.

  7. David Goerndt

    In regards to Mr. Smith’s comment on auditing the Department of the Interior. The programs such as CRP and CREP are administered by The Farm Services Administration. This agency along with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) derive their funds from the Farm Bill. Having worked for six years in an NRCS office I can say that the audit should be done on the massive tax dollar giveaways for minimal return under these Farm Bill programs.

  8. Gene Hardin

    I am strongly opposed to the budget cuts proposed by President Trumps budget. I strongly believe that rather than cutting 54 billion from important federal programs at least 54 billion in savings due to waste could be cut from the defense budget. Everyone knows how wasteful defense spending can be from buying things the military doesn not want to paying way too much for things.

  9. Christian Mrosko

    The Pentagon supposedly “lost “ $6.5 Trillion of our hard earned tax payer dollars!!! “Lost” is just another word for stole. The U.S. already spends 8 times more on defense than the next 8 nations combined.
    All of these cuts to natural resources conservation, environmental protections, education, financial sector oversight, etc., along with the building of a massive Mexico wall and increases in defense spending are a political shell game. Oversight and protections of america’s natural resources and assets is already severely underfunded. It’s pretty obvious to see where the audits and cuts really need to be made.
    Be prepared for a rip off of the american taxpayer that will make the banking and wall street plunder of 2007 / 2008 pale in comparison.

    http://nation.foxnews.com/2016/08/18/trillions-go-missing-military-pentagon-cant-account-65t-taxpayer-cash

  10. Bobbi Hatler

    The VA FIduciary Organization torments could certainly stand some thinning. That organization forces veterans families to justify every penny their disabled WWII Veterans spend for skilled nursing and health care. I lost my career spending time filling out forms and being harassed by that abusive agency. We need to lay off some of those bureaucrats instead of cutting the funding for our conservation agencies. The VA Accountants and Attorneys haven’t justified their jobs.

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Slashed Budget Would Cut Conservation Right Where It’s Needed Most

Gutting programs and agency budgets that support healthy fish and wildlife, public access to the outdoors, and our nation’s rich heritage will hurt rural economies

A broad coalition committed to safeguarding the future of our country’s fish and wildlife populations, outdoor recreation opportunities, and national heritage is dismayed at the deep level of cuts recommended by President Trump in an official budget request released today.

If enacted, Trump’s budget proposal would offset a $54-billion boost to defense spending by cutting foreign aid and domestic programs. This includes a proposed 12-percent decrease to the Department of the Interior budget, which is likely to slash resources needed to manage public and private lands, support state management of fish and wildlife, and enact conservation across the country. This would have devastating impacts on the ground for natural resources, historic sites, and the rural American communities that thrive off outdoor recreation and tourism spending.

“Gutting the programs and agency funding that helps conserve fish and wildlife and our sporting traditions is no way to support the rural and local economies that need outdoor recreation dollars most,” says Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, a lead group in the coalition known as America’s Voice for Conservation, Recreation, and Preservation. “Ignoring the real benefits of investing in conservation will erode the foundation of hunting and fishing—public access and quality places to pursue our traditions.”

Trump’s budget could also shrink the federal workforce by the largest margin since World War II. “Outdoor recreation businesses drive spending and sign paychecks in rural communities, but they certainly couldn’t thrive if public lands and waters were closed or left without active management,” says Amy Roberts, executive director of the Outdoor Industry Association. “The places where America plays, and the products Americans use in the outdoors, wouldn’t exist without those other made-in-America jobs—those of the federal land managers, park rangers, and biologists who safeguard our lands and waters so we can enjoy them.”

Congress still holds the power of the purse, and hundreds of organizations and businesses are calling on lawmakers to work constructively and collaboratively on a budget that reflects the real value of outdoor recreation opportunities, fish and wildlife habitat, and preservation of America’s rich history. More than 200 AVCRP members sent a letter to Congress and to the White House asking for the strongest possible funding levels to support the conservation of America’s wildlife, fisheries, public lands, cultural resources, and associated economic and recreational benefits.

“Lawmakers should understand that cutting the budget for America’s historic preservation programs will directly affect each state’s bottom line,” says Adam Jones, associate director of government relations for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Slashing federal funding for historic preservation and National Park Service operations will negatively affect heritage tourism, limit states’ abilities to protect their most important historic sites, and blunt the economic benefits of the federal historic rehabilitation tax credit, which has preserved more than 41,000 buildings, created 2.3 million jobs, and catalyzed $121 billion in community revitalization for Main Streets throughout America.”

AVCRP first joined the federal budget debate in 2011, when sequestration threatened to undo conservation and our country’s outdoor legacy. Learn more about the coalition here.




Christy Plumer

February 14, 2017

Will D.C. Finally Show Conservation Some Love in the Federal Budget?

Investments in conservation and support for fish and wildlife are a match made in hunting and fishing heaven, but cuts may be coming

Today, when most grade schoolers are exchanging candy hearts and Marvel superhero valentines, 213 groups are sending a message to President Trump and leaders in Congress about the heartbeat of conservation—smart investments in the future of our country’s lands, waters, and wildlife.

A coalition known as America’s Voice for Conservation, Recreation, and Preservation (AVCRP)—which comprises hunting, conservation, outdoor recreation, historic preservation, and cultural resource organizations—is calling for strong funding levels for a portion of the federal discretionary budget known as Function 300. This is the part of the budget that pays for a wide range of federal departments and agencies that manage our public lands and waters and work with private landowners in rural communities to ensure intact, working landscapes now and into the future.

Conservation Funding BLM Montana
Image courtesy of Bob Wick/BLM.

These federal departments, from the U.S. Department of the Interior and the Department of Commerce to the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service, touch upon nearly every aspect of our daily lives. From the water we drink and air we breathe to the health of the nation’s fish and wildlife populations, conservation programs in the federal budget play a critical role.

But, despite its name, Function 300 has become, well, less functional than we’d like. It has been shrunk to half its size over the last 40 years, from approximately two percent of the federal budget to slightly more than one percent. In comparison, the nation’s outdoor recreation economy, which is sustained by this important conservation funding, generates more than $646 billion in revenue annually—that’s more than 98 percent of the Interior Department’s annual budget.

Conservation Needs a Raise

For sportsmen and women, conservation funding is an investment in our outdoor heritage. It helps restore water quality and support working lands, such as private farms and ranches adjacent to public lands that provide critical habitat for elk, whitetails, wild turkeys, waterfowl, and other game species.

Yet, throughout the country, federal funding for conservation has not kept pace with the needs on the ground. While about 72 percent of Westerners depend on public land to hunt and fish, the funding needed to manage and enforce order on public lands has dwindled. Our federal agencies lack staff for large swaths of our public lands, meaning that visitor centers have been shuttered, while biologists, ecologists, and range managers have been laid off and never re-hired. In some instances, public access points are closed altogether.

Meanwhile, the ability of agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management to ensure their multiple-use mandate is extremely challenged. The workforce that remains is in dire need of an infusion of new resources in order to carry out their mission of managing for grazing, logging, development, recreation, and a healthy balance of fish and wildlife populations and intact natural systems that can withstand invasive species, fire, drought, and other natural disasters.

We have been asking these Americans to safeguard our public lands for the next generation on a shoestring, and that’s a tall order.

More Cuts Mean Less of a Conservation Legacy

It’s time to re-prioritize our nation’s public lands and the health and vitality of our fish and wildlife populations. That’s why the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership would like to see the Trump administration propose a fiscal year 2018 budget that sustains and increases funding for conservation programs within important federal departments and agencies, including the Department of the Interior and Department of Agriculture. That’s also why nearly 1,200 national, regional, state, and local organizations across multiple sectors have supported the 8-year AVCRP effort.

The TRCP, both as an independent organization and via the AVCRP campaign, will also be speaking out against efforts to reinstate sequestration in the FY2018 budget. Originally proposed in 2011, sequestration would cut $1.2 trillion in federal funding, with the majority of these cuts disproportionately impacting non-defense, discretionary spending like Function 300.

The natural resources that are a part of our American identity can’t survive this level of cutbacks to conservation, particularly given the smaller sliver of the federal pie they’ve already been given over the past 40 years. We can’t afford to balance the budget on the backs of fish and wildlife and still pass healthy lands and waters on to the next generation.

Trump’s budget should sustain and invest in conservation. Congress should see to it that those funds are distributed. It’s simple enough to fit inside a greeting card.

Kristyn Brady

January 19, 2017

SHOT Show 2017: A Glimpse at the Innovation and Our Challenges

Industry leaders at SHOT Show acknowledge that, as #OriginalConservationists, we have our work cut out for us

Thousands of marketers, buyers, and product innovators made their annual migration back to Vegas this week for the 2017 Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show, where deals are being struck and minds are being blown over the hottest new and yet-to-be-released gear. The outdoor media is here to film, tweet, and post it all, so you can start to salivate over what could be in your gun safe come fall.

It’s a place where you can start to grasp the scope of the $646-billion outdoor recreation economy. And, luckily for habitat and access that needs conserving in our country, big business for outdoor brands can mean major opportunities for fish and wildlife. Of course, millions of dollars in excise taxes on firearms and ammunition go toward conservation each year, but the brands behind your favorite gear also have some serious clout as conservation advocates and storytellers.

That’s why TRCP chooses SHOT as the venue for an annual discussion of our priorities for fish and wildlife, bringing together outdoor retailers, non-profits, and publishers to identify ways we can all work together in the coming year. Yesterday, the conversation naturally veered toward the uncertainty of a new chapter in Washington, but it was also clear that many in this industry are willing to step up and directly face the challenges ahead.

Mark Seacat, Randy Newberg, and Joel Webster.

In the wake of a House vote on rules that would undervalue public lands and clear the way to transfer or sell them off, the threats to our sportsmen’s access were top-of-mind for the group—which included writers, radio personalities, and Field  Stream, Outdoor Life, Sports Afield, and Bugle editors, as well as conservation leaders from state fish and wildlife agencies, TRCP, Pheasants Forever, Mule Deer Foundation, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, The Council to Advance the Hunting and Shooting Sports, and many, many others.

There were also many questions about conservation priorities that failed at the end of the last Congress: Why did wildfire funding reform fall apart? How do we approach yet another attempt at a Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act? Together, how can we work smarter together this time?

Howard Vincent, president of Pheasants Forever and Quail Forever, reminded the group that it’s not too soon to start talking about the 2018 Farm Bill. In fact, our work is cut out for us if we have any hope of urging lawmakers to enhance conservation programs in the legislation that would keep up with growing demand. The good news is that we have more opportunities to collaborate with agriculture. “Because of market prices, farmers are growing negative dollars, so there’s a lot of demand for the Conservation Reserve Program and not enough enrollment,” Vincent said. “Many people are starting to recognize the importance of these programs to water quality downstream. For the first time in 30 years, commodity groups are asking us to come to the table and partner.”

Despite the sheer size of the crowd on the showroom floor, there were many concerns about the dwindling number of hunters. R3 (Recruitment, Retention, Reactivation) efforts are more widespread than ever, but Ryan Callaghan, conservation and public relations director at First Lite, thought that part of the solution is incumbent on all of us. “In our industry, we tend to talk about hunting as the pinnacle of badassery, but it can turn people off or be intimidating,” he said. “If we only show people the Mount Everest of hunting”—the backcountry solo hunts and adventures in far-flung places—“we can’t be relevant to a larger community.”

TRCP’s president and CEO Whit Fosburgh agreed that we cannot get complacent as a community—we can’t just leave these solutions up to someone else. He left the group with this final plea, bringing the conversation back to the current political climate. “I think many would agree that threats to our second amendment rights are mostly off the table for the next four years, but it’s not time to sit back. Turn your attention and energy to the places we hunt, the habitat, and our access. It will be critical to have as much support as possible.”

Ed Arnett

by:

posted in: Outdoor Economy

January 12, 2017

Public Lands Have More to Offer Rural Communities than Just Energy Sector Jobs

Why we can’t afford to undercut habitat and access on public lands that also support outdoor recreation jobs

Whether anyone predicted it or not, the 2016 presidential election was partially won on the promise of jobs in parts of the country where it’s tough to scratch out a living. This has quickly become a conversation about putting Americans back to work modernizing our country’s infrastructure and unleashing energy development.

President-elect Trump has promised to dig deeper into untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves and open up onshore and offshore leasing on federal lands—the same lands where we currently enjoy public access to hunting and fishing that is the envy of the world. Many lawmakers continue to point fingers at Obama administration policies and executive actions as holding us back from energy jobs and wealth. Yet, a huge glut of oil in the world market has driven prices to levels that we as sportsmen and consumers really like when we fill up the tank for a fishing or hunting trip—that’s basic supply and demand.

Would deregulating the fossil fuel industry and “opening up” federal public lands truly solve the problem for our rural communities? Pouring more commodities into a saturated market seems an awful lot like putting all our eggs in one basket.

The truth is that commodity-based industries can fluctuate for reasons that have nothing to do with access or availability of these resources on public lands. Just ask residents of Alaska or North Dakota about their current recessions resulting from low oil and natural gas prices. At the same time that Alaska’s energy sector was tanking, the tourism industry was reporting a robust year. Job growth was flat, but the resources needed to power outdoor recreation businesses (pristine habitat and access) were at least sustainable.

We know the numbers: The outdoor industry, which includes hunting and fishing, generates at least $646 billion in direct spending and billions more in local, state, and federal tax revenues annually. Outdoor recreation—which relies heavily on public lands in the vast American West—also supports more than 6 million jobs, many that by nature cannot be exported overseas. This segment of our economy is now an officially recognized piece of our nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP.)

The scenario in Alaska highlights that while outdoor recreation jobs cannot be expected to replace industry jobs, the outdoor recreation economy is a stable part of the business portfolio for rural communities—it simply cannot be ignored, diminished or allowed to be impacted by commodity extraction. There has to be a balance.

Without a doubt, energy development is a legitimate use of our public lands and a vital part of our economy, but development must be done in a way that balances commodity production with conservation of fish and wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities for sportsmen. Our lawmakers should embrace the multiple-use mandate on public lands and support this balancing act.

This is why we need effective policies like the new BLM planning 2.0 rule, which requires a deeper look at planning for conservation and development well ahead of time. The trick is ensuring that better planning does not become greater bureaucracy—energy projects that make sense should not be unduly delayed. The goal must be to plan better first, avoid the most sensitive areas that have high environmental conflicts, manage and conserve important areas, and expedite development in appropriate places.

If Trump is to follow in Theodore Roosevelt’s footsteps, as he has expressed is his goal, he must start by viewing conservation as an investment with relatively safe returns for rural communities and the next generation of hunters and anglers. We hope it’s one that will appeal to his good business sense.

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