Federal Conservation Funding at Risk, Take Action Now (Deadline extended!)
Every August, lawmakers escape Washington, D.C. to return home to visit with constituents. The month-long recess is an opportunity to schedule a meeting with members of Congress and their staffs to discuss important issues affecting sportsmen, including fish and wildlife habitat.
Call your legislator’s local office now to set up a meeting while he or she is near your hometown. While you’re dropping in, here are some important issues that need to be addressed in Congress:
- Vital conservation program grant funding is under threat of being completely eliminated. Program budgets were cut because of sequestration, and last month the House Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee eliminated funding for the following popular and highly successful grant programs for next fiscal year:
- State & Tribal Wildlife Grants Program
- North American Wetlands Conservation Fund
- Neotropical Migratory Bird Fund
- Forest Legacy Program
- Land and Water Conservation Fund
These programs have conserved some of our nation’s most cherished fish and wildlife, restored vital wetlands and protected priority forests, grasslands, coasts and other important habitats. Complete elimination of funding for these popular programs is unprecedented! We need your help to convince appropriators in the US House and US Senate how important these programs are to fish and wildlife and request that funding be restored for the next fiscal year which is set to begin on October 1st.
Below is a national sign-on letter circulated by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies supporting these vital programs. Please consider adding your organization’s name to this letter so we can demonstrate that these programs have broad support amongst hunters, anglers, paddlers, hikers, conservation educators and others who use and enjoy the outdoors.
To sign on to this letter, send an email with your organization’s name and state to firstname.lastname@example.org by the EXTENDED deadline of Monday September 9th.
Zeroing out these programs would have serious consequences for fish and wildlife conservation and access to recreation, particularly in Michigan where we have been successful in receiving various competitive grants through these programs. These grant programs leverage modest federal dollars with significant non-federal dollars from partners, such as Ducks Unlimited, to deliver millions of acres of habitat conservation on the ground.
Total federal investments in natural resources and outdoor recreation are equivalent to less than 1 percent of the entire federal budget. However, this federal funding accounts for 60 percent of the direct investments in conservation in the United States. Tell members of Congress it’s crucial for conservation programs to be adequately funded.
Another issue to bring up with your U.S. Representatives is the Farm Bill, conservation programs in the Farm Bill are vital to our country.
- The Senate has passed a five-year farm bill, and the House of Representatives has passed a “farm only” bill. The House and Senate versions of the farm bill must go to a conference committee to reconcile the differences between the two before it can become law.
- The House is expected to take a vote on a separate nutrition bill in September, before announcing their members of the conference committee.
- Tell your members of Congress you want a five-year farm bill that includes a national Sodsaver program and re-couples conservation compliance to crop insurance.
Congress will get back to work in Washington on Monday, Sept. 9, and it’s important that they hear your opinions while they’re home. Next steps? Call legislative offices to schedule an appointment, send a message via social media and visit their website to find public events to attend today!