Conservation

Three things Congress should do before the end of the year

The Farm Bill provides support for projects that improve water conservation and efficiency for farmers and ranchers. BJ Burns and his daughter, pictured here, have been working for several years with Trout Unlimited to secure a reliable dry season water supply for their farm and help steelhead on California’s Pescadero Creek.

By Kate Miller

With the end of the 115th Congress rapidly approaching, America’s lawmakers have a prime opportunity to advance the interests of anglers and sportsmen and -women across the country. Trout Unlimited urges members of Congress to do just that prior to January 3, 2019.

In particular, the current lame-duck session of Congress provides the opportunity to reauthorize the Farm Bill (with its many vital conservation programs), critical funding for the nation’s natural resource agencies, and a comprehensive package of bipartisan legislation designed to support recreational opportunities on public lands.

Specifically, TU recommends that Congress complete the following before the end of the 115th:

1) Pass the Farm Bill.

America’s hunters, anglers, farmers, and ranchers all depend on the resources provided through the Farm Bill. But America’s agriculture-based communities are hard pressed. Fish and wildlife habitat and water challenges abound. Thus we are delighted that Conferees seem close to unveiling their new Farm Bill.

Farm bill programs support innovative partnerships among private and public entities that benefit both agricultural producers and the environment. And Farm Bill enactment in 2018 will substantially increase our ability to work effectively with farmers and ranchers so that they can improve their operations and bottom lines, while boosting conservation and restoration of America’s fish, wildlife and water resources.

Especially given the importance of the Farm Bill for programs that directly support habitat conservation and water quality and supply, TU deeply appreciates the work that the House and Senate Agriculture committee leaders and staff have invested in Farm Bill Conservation Title reauthorization in the 115th Congress.

2) Finalize Spending (Appropriations) Bills with Full funding for Natural Resource Agencies and Programs.

We applaud the Congress for its commitment to passing spending bills for FY19. However, critical federal programs still await final congressional action, including the Interior, Energy and Related Agencies and the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations bills. These bills provide the budgets for agencies and programs that are critical to habitat conservation, wildlife and fisheries management, and provision and improvement of sporting opportunities.

TU urges members of Congress to pass a bi-partisan appropriations bill supporting strong funding for resource agencies and programs, with no harmful riders related to conservation or management of water resources and public lands.

(R) Public lands: the heart of our American sporting heritage.

3) Advance Bipartisan Public Lands Bills.

Trout Unlimited urges Congress to advance a public lands package of bipartisan bills that will help protect and restore fish and wildlife and their habitat and support recreational opportunities on public lands. There are a several bipartisan proposals that are ripe for inclusion in an end-of-year package, including priority legislation such as reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. For a list of TU’s public land priorities for the 115th lame-duck session, click here.

For questions, please contact TU’s Government Affairs Team.

Kate Miller is TU’s director of Government Affairs. She works from our headquarters in Arlington, VA.