At the same time these cuts would diminish access to these public lands for all Americans.
Conservation programs have not been provided the dollars they need for many years, despite the fact that they represent barely one percent of the federal budget and return a huge investment to communities across the country. The Wilderness Society, along with two dozen national conservation organizations, recently released a report, Green Investments, that highlights the damaging impacts of years of budget cuts to conservation programs. Despite these clear impacts, Chairman Price is proposing even deeper cuts to agencies that are already having trouble maintaining basic infrastructure like visitor centers and filling essential positions such as law enforcement, managers and rangers.
We clearly cannot address our nation’s fiscal challenges on the back of programs that constitute a tiny sliver of federal spending and which serve the vital role of protecting and maintaining our air, water, lands and wildlife while also ensuring public access to our nation’s incredible outdoor recreational opportunities.
Visits and outdoor recreation tied to our national parks, forests, refuges and monuments deliver hundreds of billions of dollars in economic activity to communities across America each year, strengthening local economies and sustaining homegrown jobs that cannot be exported.
The Wilderness Society supports the investments in conservation in President Obama’s proposed fiscal year 2016 budget, including:
- Full and dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a wildly popular 50-year-old conservation program that has supported conservation of our lands and waters, from national parks to community ball fields;
- A proposal similar to currently introduced bipartisan legislation that would fund suppression of the most severe wildfires the same way we fund all other natural disaster responses;
- Increased funding for national monuments to improve infrastructure, including in the recently designated San Gabriel Mountains National Monument in Southern California;
- Greater funding, in the face of climate change, for building resilience locally and for adaptive management across public lands managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service;
- Funding for smart planning to ensure that renewable energy is developed in the right places that do not impact sensitive wild lands and wildlife habitat. To tackle climate change, a focus on smart renewable energy siting is necessary;
- Ensure that oil and gas development is better balanced with protection of wild lands and is done safely and responsibly through increased funding for inspection and enforcement of oil and gas wells on federal lands. The president’s budget also proposes an increase in royalty rates for oil and gas development to ensure tax payers get a fair return for use of our lands by fully and fairly valuing the resources contained beneath them.
The Wilderness Society is the leading wild public lands conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. Founded in 1935, and now with more than 500,000 members and supporters, The Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect 110 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands. www.wilderness.org.
Cam Witten, 202-429-8458, firstname.lastname@example.org
Alan Rowsome, 202.429.2643, email@example.com