Washington — Conservation leaders who’ve weeded through President Barack Obama’s nearly $4 billion budget released earlier this week say dollars proposed for a number of key programs are positive for conservation nationwide.
According to a press release from the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, “sportsmen’s priorities are singled out for robust funding …”
Among the programs mentioned specifically by the TRCP are the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program.
“It also includes revenue from the passage of the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act, a TRCP legislative priority that was recently introduced in the 114th Congress,” the press release states.
The group also says the President’s proposal would remove a number of conservation spending caps “harmful to a range of programs.”
The TRCP notes that Congress has final authority on budget issues, but that Obama’s budget creates benchmarks used during budget debate.
According to that group, the budget as presented would fund the North American Wetlands Conservation Act at its current $34 million level. The State and Tribal grants program would get $70, while the LWCF would be fully funded at $900 million.
The Nature Conservancy was particularly pleased with the wildfire provision in Obama’s budget.
“The Nature Conservancy strongly agrees with the need to find a budget fix that meets America’s growing need to fight wildfire disasters in a way that does not come at the expense of other critical programs,” Kameran Onley, director of U.S. government relations for TNC, said in a press release.
The measure would reduce the amount of “wildfire borrowing,” which during years of high fire activity has resulted in money pulled from other Forest Service projects, and can now be seen in a backlog of activities.
“We are heartened by this administration’s recognition of the importance of these key measures by its release of a budget that, while not perfect, represents a positive investment in the business plan for outdoor recreation,” TRCP CEO Whit Fosburgh said in a statement.
In another legislative matter, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency moves closer to finalizing a rule to clarify which waters are considered “waters of the United States” and subject to Clean Water Act jurisdiction, a Minnesota Congressman is promoting a bill that would halt the EPA’s action.
A week ago, Rep. Collin Peterson joined other members of the U.S. House to introduce the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act.
According to a press release from Peterson, the legislation would “prohibit the EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from redefining “waters of the United States” under the CWA. The bill also would prohibit implementation of the interpretive rule for agriculture.
Peterson sponsored similar legislation last session.