Following today’s release by the White House of the administration’s fiscal 2015 budget, sportsmen’s groups highlighted measures of particular importance to hunters and anglers while reiterating calls for House and Senate appropriators to prioritize funding for critical conservation programs, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership announced.
The president’s budget proposes full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a key sportsmen priority, as well as strong funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and an increase in the price of the federal Duck Stamp. Important reforms to funding wildfire suppression also are proposed.
“Responsibly managed lands and waters, high-quality habitat for fish and game species, dependable access to places to hunt and fish – these represent priorities of the sportsmen’s community that are unattainable without robust, secure federal investment,” said Steve Kline, TRCP director of government relations. “In its fiscal 2015 budget, the administration demonstrates that it understands the value of the outdoors-dependent economy fueled by hunters and anglers. We now urge Congress to build upon this momentum by prioritizing funding for programs critical to natural resources conservation and the continuation of our nation’s outdoor traditions.”
Notably, the White House budget recommends full funding of the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund, which directs a portion of revenues from offshore oil and gas leasing to conserve fish and wildlife habitat and increase access and recreation opportunities for sportsmen and the general public. Under the president’s budget, the LWCF would receive $900 million in fiscal year 2015.
“The Land and Water Conservation Fund works for sportsmen and –women,” said Land Tawney, executive director of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. “The program invests in the conservation of fish and wildlife habitat and enhances recreational access, which means more rewarding days afield for America’s hunters and anglers. The president once again has made LWCF funding a priority, and with bipartisan support for the program on Capitol Hill, congressional appropriators should include robust funding for the LWCF in 2015.”
The president also signaled support of taking catastrophic wildfire expenses off budget, addressing a dynamic that hampers the abilities of federal agencies to reliably manage their budgets in favor of fire spending and suppression.
“While catastrophic wildfire can be a destructive force on the landscape, it for years has had a similarly devastating impact on the federal conservation budget,” said Becky Humphries, executive vice president of conservation for the National Wild Turkey Federation. “When we are forced to rob Peter to pay Paul to fund fire suppression, we are taking those dollars from forest management activities that not only benefit fish and wildlife but also reduce the risk of fire. Hampering these agencies’ ability to responsibly manage our natural resources in favor of fire spending is unsustainable. Sportsmen commend both the president and the members of Congress who have initiated an active dialogue on this issue.”
Outdoor recreation, including hunting and angling, is a major economic driver in America. This sector of the economy is responsible for $646 billion in direct consumer spending each year, supports more than 6.1 million jobs and sustains rural communities across the nation. Yet lack of funding certainty from year to year has had an enormous negative impact on the ability of agencies to fulfill their conservation missions, jeopardizing those economic benefits, jobs and an industry that relies on sound natural resources management.
Read the TRCP 2014 Conservation Policy Agenda.
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