Green Investments: National Environmental Groups Highlight Impact of Federal Budget Cuts on Conservation and Natural Resources

Mar 3, 2014

Citing damage to the environment, the economy, drinking water supplies and more, The Wilderness Society, along with other national groups across the U.S., is urging the President and Congress to end years of budget cuts to conservation and natural resource programs. The new report, coauthored with more than two dozen other conservation organizations, illustrates the importance of reinvesting in these programs for Fiscal Year 2015 and beyond. Link: http://wilderness.org/resource/green-investments-2014

“All federal spending on environmental, conservation and renewable energy programs amounts to barely one percent of the federal budget,” says Cameron Witten, Government Relations Associate at The Wilderness Society. “Yet these vital programs reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire, protect the water that our national forests provide to one in six Americans and preserve and maintain access to our public lands, which contribute significantly to the nation’s $646 billion outdoor recreation economy.” The report, “Green Investments,” outlines dozens of examples of programs that have been shortchanged in recent years.

A few examples follow:

Programs designed to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire are underfunded. Steps to reduce hazardous fuel for wildfires have not occurred due to lack of funds. The Wilderness Society supports restoration of wildfire funds and supports an emergency funding mechanism for combatting the most serious fires. Recent spikes in fire suppression spending have been paid for at the expense of other forest programs that could reduce the fire risks. Agencies that manage wildfires need stable budgets that are not subject to being reallocated.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund has seen more than $18 billion diverted over its lifetime. The LWCF, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, has supported many iconic national parks ranging from the Everglades to the Grand Canyon to Denali National Park in Alaska. It has protected and secured recreation access to vital public lands nationwide, including local ball fields and hiking trails. The Wilderness Society calls on policy makers to ensure that LWCF funding is preserved and used for its intended purposes. The fiscal year 2013 sequester was the third straight year of cuts for the National Park Service. Park Service programs have been unable to keep pace with needs. That means closed facilities, fewer rangers and growth in the backlog of deferred maintenance. National parks in the U.S. support more than $30 billion in economic activity each year and more than a quarter millions jobs. Congress and the Administration must reverse this chronic underfunding of our national parks.

“In this 50th anniversary year of the Wilderness Act, it is critical that Congress and the Administration once again prioritize investments in conservation, natural resources and the environment,” says Alan Rowsome, Senior Government Relations Director at The Wilderness Society. “Investments in these programs are essential to ensure that all Americans have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink and access to outdoor recreation. Careful stewardship of our public lands also supports healthy wildlife populations, a renewable energy future and high-quality American jobs that cannot be exported.”

Resources

Report: “Green Investments: Budget Cut Impacts to Natural Resources and the Environment, and the Need for Reinvestments in FY15.” Link: http://wilderness.org/resource/green-investments-2014

Cameron Witten
(202) 429-8458