House lawmakers from the Committee on Appropriations met today to consider funding decisions impacting fish, wildlife, and public lands. TRCP Director of Government Relations Steve Kline spoke in front of the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies to support spending on five programs that are top priorities for American sportsmen.
“Conservation programs are frequently the target of budgetary cuts that, while having virtually no meaningful impact on the federal deficit, have profoundly negative long-term impacts on wildlife resources,” said Kline. “But with reasonable investments in conservation, we can reap many benefits.”
With support from TRCP’s coalition of more than 40 partners, Kline urged that the committee consider robust funding to the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for sagebrush-steppe restoration that would benefit the greater sage-grouse. “Keeping the sage-grouse off the endangered species list is a national conservation priority, and that goal requires coordination between states, federal land managers, and private landowners,” said TRCP President and CEO Whit Fosburgh, adding that habitat improvements would also boost mule deer and pronghorns.
Grant programs with matched-dollar incentives—like the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, and the State Wildlife Grants Program—should also be top funding priorities, argued Kline. “Each federal dollar invested in these grant programs is matched, on average, three times over by non-federal dollars,” he said. “Even a minimal increase in funding for these grant programs will have a major on-the-ground impact, and for every dollar cut, at least three dollars will not be available for measurable, boots-in-the-mud conservation work.” Kline also reiterated the group’s support for reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation fund.
The take-home message for House lawmakers was the importance of conservation funding to maintaining the infrastructure of a robust outdoor economy: “Returns on conservation investments include jobs, increased tax revenues, non-federal dollars that far outstrip the initial federal commitment, and better days afield for America’s hunters and anglers.”
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Inspired by the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, the TRCP is a coalition of organizations
and grassroots partners working together to preserve the traditions
of hunting and fishing.