Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is calling a Senate fiscal year 2020 spending bill a positive on many fronts, although appropriators are settling for only a modest increase for the Land and Water Conservation Fund over currently enacted levels.
The Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously passed the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for FY2020 spending today, following the passage in June of a related appropriations bill in the House of Representatives. LWCF received $465 million for FY2020 spending in the Senate bill, $30 million more than FY2019 enacted levels. The House allocated $525 million to LWCF in its appropriations proposal for FY2020.
BHA praised the following measures in the Senate bill:
- Full funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program to help alleviate local economies;
- $1.399 billion for the Bureau of Land Management, which is a $53 million increase from currently enacted levels;
- $1.63 billion for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, a $52.7 million increase in funding;
- $7.471 billion for the Forest Service to invest in proactive management programs, including a $19 million increase for hazardous fuels reduction.
- BHA has consistently supported full and dedicated funding for LWCF, a public access and conservation program with a half century-plus record of success, and was quick to remind lawmakers of a missed opportunity.
“Led by hunters and anglers, American citizens have raised our voices over and over in support of providing full, dedicated funding to the Land and Water Conservation Fund,” said BHA Conservation Director John Gale. “Yet both the Senate and the House of Representatives have proposed LWCF funding levels for fiscal year 2020 that fall far short of the $900 million authorized annually to the program, without any taxpayer burdens.
“While we appreciate both chambers’ efforts to increase funding for LWCF and other important conservation programs,” Gale continued, “we urge congressional leaders to pursue any legislative opportunities to dedicate full funding for LWCF.”
Congress recently passed a short-term funding bill that extends fiscal year 2019 enacted funding levels to Nov. 21, giving leadership and appropriators additional time to negotiate a new spending measure.