Tuesday, January 31st, 2023
Tuesday, January 31st, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Stimulus could help conservation

Washington – While the federal government is providing billions
of dollars in “stimulus” funding to ease the nation’s economic
woes, it’s likely at least some of that will trickle toward
conservation and the environment.

Some conservation groups say that has, in fact, occurred.

Ducks Unlimited hopes to see some wetland restoration projects
emerge from the stimulus bill.

“Conservation projects were the original ‘green jobs,'” said
Scott Sutherland, DU’s director of governmental affairs.

“These projects can be initiated rapidly and will improve
habitat and water quality for years to come …”

Conservation groups have touted that their projects are
“shovel-ready,” something DU and other groups mentioned earlier
this year as President Obama’s “transition team” took
recommendations from sectors of the citizenry. DU said restoration
projects, like those undertaken because of the North American
Wetlands Conser-vation Act, could create more than 8,000 jobs
nationwide – many “pre-approved” and “shovel-ready.”

Obama signed off on a bill that the Theodore Roosevelt
Conser-vation Partnership called a “significant dual investment in
our nation’s economy and environment …”

Though a portion of the immense spending package is aimed at
natural resources, the details are forthcoming.

For example, according to TRCP, funding of $375 million for
restoration of the Mississippi River and its tributaries will be
split between river and tributary “maintenance,” and “investigation
and construction activities related to flood control, navigation,
and environmental restoration activities …,” according to a Senate
committee.

That’s caught the attention of some groups, including the Izaak
Walton League of America, and agricultural program director Brad
Redlin.

“A concern we have … is that funds aren’t specifically
designated,” Redlin said recently.

Still, there were aspects of the so-called stimulus plan that
Redlin said likely would benefit the environment and conservation
efforts.

Specifically, the bill provides an additional $500 million to
fund the federal Women-Infants-Children program (WIC). Funding for
that program typically is appropriated via the same bill that
directs funding for conservation programs. Funding WIC (a form of
welfare) through the stimulus bill may improve the chances some
conservation programs receive full funding, Redlin said.

According to TRCP, there are plenty of other places where
stimulus funding will help the outdoors.

“The national coalition of hunting, angling, and conservation
organizations pointed to much-needed bursts of funding for fish
passage improvements and abandoned mine reclamation nationwide,
along with habitat restoration in the Mississippi River corridor,
as prime examples of the innovative ways that congressional leaders
found to simultaneously improve our nation’s natural resources and
economy,” according to a TRCP press release. “Thousands of jobs
immediately will follow from the investments in fish and wildlife
habitat improvements contained in the stimulus package …”

The stimulus bill includes a number of items that the TRCP has
deemed conservation-oriented, including:

€ $280 million for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for refuge
operations and maintenance, and $165 million for resource
management;

€ $230 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration’s operations, research, and facilities;

€ $500 million for USDA Forest Service wildland fire management
efforts;

€ $27.5 billion set aside for highway infrastructure includes
funds for park roads, parkways, forest highways, and refuge
roads;

€ $290 million for the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s
watershed and flood-prevention operations; and

€ $125 million for the Bureau of Land Management for projects
including trail maintenance and watershed improvement.

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