Advocacy | Conservation | Government Affairs | Home page slider

Conservation programs on the administration chopping block once again

The Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge, Idaho.
Photo by Chris Hunt

The Trump administration is once again proposing significant government funding cuts that that would hamstring critical clean water programs and weaken TU’s federal partners.

If these cuts were enacted, they would undermine efforts by Trout Unlimited and our conservation partners to protect coldwater habitat in places like the Colorado River basin, the Chesapeake Bay and Delaware River watersheds, and native salmon spawning ranges across the Northwest and Alaska. TU leverages federal program investments with private and foundation dollars and volunteer labor to do on-the-ground work that benefits both fisheries, communities and local economies.

“The drastically reduced levels recommended by the administration are ill-conceived,” said Steve Moyer, TU’s vice president for Government Affairs. “The good news is that they are very unlikely to pass. Congress has resoundingly rejected many of these cuts in past years because they recognize the value of these important programs. TU will continue to oppose these cuts and work to provide the necessary funding for coldwater fishery conservation.”

On a positive note, and thanks in great part to advocacy by TU and our partners, the budget would uphold all funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Partners for Fish and Wildlife program. Both are integral to TU’s conservation work.
The Environmental Protection Agency faces the largest proposed cut: $2.4 billion—a staggering 27 percent decrease that would set its operating budget at its lowest level since the 1980s. Such draconian cuts would weaken EPA’s water and air pollution programs.The Department of the Interior—which oversees many critical agencies, like the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Land Management—would be reduced by 13 percent. Those cuts are primarily focused on DOI land acquisition programs intended to expand and solidify the country’s world-class public lands system.

Other proposed hits to programs critical for TU’s conservation work include:

  • EPA Clean Water Programs: The budget proposes slashing $1.3 billion from EPA water programs, including 100 percent of the funding for EPA Non-point Source (Sec. 319) Grant Program. Previously funded at $166 million, this is essential to TU’s work to clean up pollution from abandoned mine lands.
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: The President’s budget proposes to completely eliminate two important programs for coldwater fisheries within FWS: The Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund (currently funded at $36 million), and the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program (currently funded at $9.7 million).
  • The Chesapeake Bay Program: The proposal recommends a $7.3 million allocation, $77.5 million less than the FY20 enacted level, representing a 90-percent cut to the program. This cut comes in the wake of significant funding increases for the Chesapeake Bay Watershed in this year’s successful budget deal.
  • The Land and Water Conservation Fund: The budget recommends significant cuts for the nation’s premier conservation program, calling for just 1.6 percent of full funding for the program. These cuts are proposed despite Congress’s recent move to permanently authorize the LWCF, and current bipartisan efforts to fully fund the program at $900 million.
  • NOAA Programs: The Administration proposes to eliminate funding for NOAA’s Sea Grant Program, Coastal Zone Management Grants, Environmental Education Grants, and the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund.

What’s Next:

With the release of the administration’s FY21 budget, Congress will now get to work. TU is already at work with our conservation allies to press for adequate funding levels to support critical conservation programs and the federal agencies that oversee those efforts.

TAKE ACTION: You can help! Take a moment to tell your congressional representative to oppose the cuts proposed in the administration’s budget, and stand up for the agencies and programs that make hunting and fishing great!