Sweeping budget sequestration. A complete shutdown of the federal government. Fiscal year 2013 was tough for federal funding of conservation programs, which saw sustained cuts and more uncertainty. But a series of bipartisan breakthroughs in late 2013 and early 2014, namely the passage of a two year budget outline and the subsequent passage of the Omnibus Appropriations Bill, restored regular order to the appropriations process for the foreseeable future and also prioritized federal conservation program spending in fiscal year 2014. Despite the return to budgetary normalcy implemented by the Omnibus Appropriations Bill of 2014, however, the TRCP still faces an uphill battle as it works within the confines of an extremely frugal spending environment on conservation spending for 2015 and beyond.
As appropriators work toward crafting a budget deal for fiscal year 2015, the TRCP is fully engaged to ensure full and fair funding to vital conservation programs.
As we move toward a crucial time in the appropriations process, the TRCP continues to bring the voice of sportsmen to bear on the importance of robust funding for fish and wildlife habitat conservation programs. Ensuring that Congress and the Obama administration understand the economic importance of America’s outdoor recreation and the link between that economy and our investment in conservation is of paramount importance.
In January of 2014, Congress passed a comprehensive Omnibus Appropriations Bill for the remainder of fiscal year 2014, marking a significant step toward returning to a normal budget and appropriations process. The TRCP was instrumental in ensuring increased funding to a number of key conservation programs, including the Land and Water Conservation Fund, North American Wetlands Conservation Act, and the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program, each of which had been proposed for dramatic funding reductions. The National Wildlife Refuge System also received a healthy 4 percent increase in funding, bringing the total dollar amount from $454 million to $472 million.
Sportsmen must remain vigilant, as it would be incredibly easy for elected officials to revert back to old habits. In the near future, we face a variety of funding challenges, including the depletion of US Forest Service conservation accounts due to the phenomena often referred to as fire borrowing and the rising cost of wildfire suppression. The TRCP has been highly engaged in supporting The Wildfire Disaster Funding Act to cultivate increased budgetary adaptability to more effectively fund wildfire suppression while simultaneously restoring effective forestry management programs that ensure healthy wilderness and habitat throughout the United States. The TRCP will continue working to unite organizations and individuals behind a shared belief that investments in natural resource conservation and outdoor recreation are vital to the future of our great nation.
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