The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies joined with 31 organizations in the hunting, angling and conservation community to urgently appeal to U.S. House Members for fair and proportional cuts to conservation funding proposed in House Continuing Resolution for FY11 (HR1). The CR proposes, among other cuts, to zero-fund the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants programs, which are vital to helping state fish and wildlife agencies meet their conservation objectives. Other programs such as Farm Bill Conservation programs, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, Forest Legacy and the National Fish Habitat Action Plan would be severely reduced or eliminated.
While the CR cuts spending to many programs valued by Americans, zero-funding fish and wildlife conservation programs is disproportionate to cuts endured by most other programs, and the deep cuts are magnified because these are matching grant programs where state and NGO partner dollars are leveraged with federal dollars to put more conservation on the ground.
The letter to Representatives states:
We, the hunting, fishing and conservation community, are writing you with great urgency to ensure that you understand that various provisions of HR 1 and several amendments to that bill strike directly at America’s longstanding tradition of federal support for conservation and management of fish, wildlife and their habitat. Among these are the elimination of funding for State and Tribal Wildlife Grants, the elimination of funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, significant cuts to Farm Bill Conservation Programs, the drastic reduction or elimination of funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, Forest Legacy, the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, and the National Fish Habitat Action Plan, and the elimination of federal funding for the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
While we fully acknowledge that conservation programs should shoulder a fair and proportional burden of reductions to the Federal budget as required to address the budget deficit, these provisions of HR 1, in our view, represent a deliberate move away from America’s long conservation tradition and, specifically with respect to the interests of the hunting, fishing and outdoor community. We are very disappointed that the Congress would consider these actions without consultation with the hunting, fishing and conservation community. These vital programs with long-standing track records of success are foundational to fish, wildlife and habitat conservation, good for the economy in creating jobs particularly in rural communities, and critical to providing opportunities for America’s sportsmen and women.
We urge that before acting on HR 1, you alter the deep cuts cited above to reflect a proportional share of the budget reductions you are seeking. Thank you for your sincere consideration of our views.