U.S. House bill would cut natural resource programs, initiatives

WASHINGTON -- Funding for one of North America's most successful wetlands programs would be eliminated under a House bill that proposes deep cuts to several natural resources programs.

WASHINGTON -- Funding for one of North America's most successful wetlands programs would be eliminated under a House bill that proposes deep cuts to several natural resources programs.

The cuts, which include no funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, are part of H.R. 1, a House of Representatives bill to fund U.S. government activities for the remainder of fiscal year 2011.

About 30 conservation, sporting and environmental groups lined up this week to criticize the bill. According to the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, the proposed cuts to programs affecting fish and wildlife management, hunting and angling access and public- and private-lands administration could create a "conservation crisis."

'Misguided bill'

"While hunters and anglers recognize the urgent need to address budget challenges, we are extremely disappointed by Congress's cavalier approach to reducing spending by gutting vital conservation programs," said Whit Fosburgh, TRCP president and CEO. "These proposed cuts don't simply trim excess fat; they eviscerate programs that sportsmen have supported and benefited from for generations.


"If this misguided bill becomes law, decades of conservation gains will be undermined," Fosburgh added, "and sportsmen's efforts to leave a legacy of quality hunting and fishing opportunities for future generations of hunters and anglers will be destroyed."

John Kostyack, vice president of wildlife conservation for the National Wildlife Federation, called the measure a "sneak attack on conservation through the budget process."

"We cannot compromise our nation's commitment to clean air, clean water, healthy wildlife habitat and green spaces for children and families to connect to nature," Kostyack added.

Closer look

Proposed cuts include:

n North American Wetlands Conservation Act: The House bill provides no funding for NAWCA, equating to a cut of $47 million in wetlands habitat work.

n Land and Water Conservation Fund: Funds to the LWCF, which has acquired and conserved some of the nation's most popular public-lands hunting and angling destinations, could be reduced by 90 percent.

n Wetlands Reserve Program: WRP, a critical program for protecting and enhancing waterfowl habitat, would be capped at 202,218 acres in fiscal year 2011, permanently reduced by 47,782 acres.


n Natural Resources Adaptation: The Department of the Interior's natural resources adaptation programs to guide fish and wildlife management efforts in the face of climate change would be cut by more than 30 percent.

n State and Tribal Wildlife Grants: These grants provide federal money to every state and territory for efforts aimed at preventing fish and wildlife from becoming endangered; funding, now at $90 million, would be eliminated.

n Environmental Protection Agency: The bill would cut the EPA by nearly one-third for the remainder of the fiscal year and block the agency from limiting global warming pollution.

In response to the proposed cuts, some 30 groups, including the Boone and Crockett Club, Delta Waterfowl, Ducks Unlimited, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, Pheasants Forever, the American Fisheries Society and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, joined the TRCP in signing a letter opposing the measure.

Dale Hall, CEO of Ducks Unlimited, said the group is especially concerned about specific areas of the cuts, such as action to prohibit efforts to restore Clean Water Act protections to important shallow wetlands, including those in the Prairie Pothole Region of North Dakota and South Dakota.

The Prairie Pothole Region is widely known as North America's "Duck Factory" because of its importance to breeding waterfowl.

"If these cuts and actions take place, waterfowl, waterfowl hunters and wetlands conservation would lose in a big way," Hall said. "In short, these actions would adversely affect all of us who care about, and have funded, wetlands and waterfowl conservation. We should remember, conservation in America pays for itself through the economic return from hunters, anglers and other outdoor enthusiasts."

Fosburgh of the TRCP said the partnership will work with its partners and the U.S. Senate to craft a responsible budget that doesn't "unnecessarily target" conservation funding.


"As this bill currently stands, hunters and anglers cannot support it," Fosburgh said.

What To Read Next
Get Local