Hits taken, but federal spending bill less damaging than first proposed

Contact: Keith Curley, (703) 284-9428


Hits taken, but federal spending bill less damaging than first proposed
Sportsmen’s voices heard in Congress; cutting conservation programs would have been bad policy

WASHINGTON – Congress apparently heard the outcry over deep proposed cuts to vital conservation programs from Trout Unlimited and other sportsmen’s conservation groups, as the fiscal year 2011 spending bill approved this week included much-needed funding for important conservation work.

That said, the spending bill does, indeed, scale back conservation funding from previous levels, and these cuts will be felt on the ground, said Steve Moyer, vice president of government affairs for Trout Unlimited.

“Sportsmen conservationists were mad about some of the provisions included in HR 1, the first draft of proposed spending cuts,” Moyer said. “Even though it’s spring and the outdoors are calling, we put down our rods and firearms and took up our phones and computer keyboards to talk to our members of Congress, and our voices were heard.”

HR 1 would have devastated stalwart programs such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, State Wildlife Grants, and Farm Bill conservation programs. Its ill-conceived policy riders would have undercut the protections of the Clean Water Act, overturned landmark salmon restoration programs on the San Joaquin and Klamath Rivers, and curtailed OHV management on federal lands.

While fiscal year 2011 appropriations levels are superior to those of HR 1, they still represent levels that are far below last year’s levels for some programs, such as the State Wildlife Grants program (see the brief summary below). Thankfully, Moyer said, most of the riders, including all of the Clean Water Act and salmon restoration program riders, were removed in the bill approved by Congress.

Sportsmen depend on these programs to help sustain the fish and wildlife bounty that yields huge economic benefits to the nation each year. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, sportsmen generate $22 billionin hunting expenditures and $42 billion in fishing expenditures annually.

“We appreciate deeply the tremendous efforts invested by many members of Congress and the Obama Administration to soften the blows administered by HR 1’s conservation provisions,” said Moyer. “And we salute all sportsmen and women who responded to HR 1. But our work is not yet done. Upcoming Congressional debates on raising the debt ceiling and FY 2012 appropriations bills will have more threats to our hunting and fishing heritage, and we will be ready.”

Final FY2011 spending for some priority conservation programs:

  • Land and Water Conservation Fund – $301 million, a 33 percent reduction from 2010, but an increase of $244 million from what was proposed in H.R. 1.
  • North American Wetlands Conservation Fund – $37.5 million, down 21 percent from 2010 but slated for elimination in HR 1.
  • State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program – $62 million, a reduction of 31 percent from 2010, but was set to be zeroed out by HR 1.
  • Farm Bill Wetlands Reserve Program – down $119 million.
  • Farm Bill Environmental Quality Incentives Program – down $80 million from 2010.
  • Riders proposed to undercut the Clean Water Act, salmon restoration programs, and OHV management on federal lands, were removed.

Trout Unlimited is a private, non-profit organization with more than 140,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting and restoring North America’s trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds.