More than 40 hunting and fishing groups and businesses urge Congress to continue budgeted boost for agencies that put habitat improvements on the ground
In a letter to Congressional leadership today, 43 organizations representing hunters, anglers, retailers, natural resource professionals, landowners, and other conservationists urged lawmakers not to backtrack on conservation funding increases that were widely celebrated in the end-of-year budget deal.
“Since 1977, the percentage of the federal budget devoted to conservation has been cut in half. This trend has negatively impacted the ability of wildlife managers and scientists to conserve the habitat on which many hunters and anglers rely,” the groups wrote. “Thankfully, your work on the Fiscal Year 2016 Consolidate Appropriations Act began to reverse this trend.”
“With this budget deal, Senator Cochran and other lawmakers delivered a huge win for wildlife and sportsmen,” says Wildlife Mississippi Executive Director James Cummins. “We’re calling on Congress to stick to this deal, so we can ensure our kids and grandkids get to enjoy the same opportunities we have to spend a day afield.”
With important increases for fiscal year 2016 set across the board—12 percent for the Forest Service, 5 percent for the Fish and Wildlife Service, 10 percent for the Bureau of Land Management, and 6 percent for NOAA—and non-defense discretionary spending held relatively constant from 2016 to 2017, the letter asks that appropriators maintain current funding levels for the agencies and programs that provide the foundation for a $646-billion outdoor recreation economy.
“Orvis employs over 1,700 people, including hundreds right here in the Green Mountain State,” said Dave Perkins, executive vice chairman of Orvis. “But the future of our company depends on the future of America’s land and water. That’s why Congress needs to be investing in our outdoor heritage now.”
As lawmakers begin the budget and appropriations process, sportsmen’s groups are requesting that no less than $32.158 billion is set aside for the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill. At least $5.76 billion for NOAA and $851 million for the NRCS would also signal a commitment to currently enacted levels.
To see where conservation funding stacks up against all other government spending, click here.