FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Erin Mooney, TU National Press Secretary (571) 331-7970
House of Rep. Continuing Resolution Spending Bill Would Discontinue Cooperative Watershed Conservation Efforts Nationwide
Bill attacks Clean Water Act, public land management, watershed restoration and conservation funding.
Arlington, Va.– Trout Unlimited (TU) strongly opposes HR 1, a bill to fund the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year, due to harmful legislative riders that would block the Clean Water Act and other protective rules for streams and enact sudden and steep cuts in conservation programs.
The short-term spending bill, which was passed early this morning, took aim at a suite of natural resource regulations that help protect trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds from mine waste, uncontrolled off-road vehicle use and other impacts. The bill also blocked the processes in place to restore vital watersheds like the Klamath River basin in Oregon and California and the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Additionally, it eliminated grant programs for fish and wildlife habitat restoration.
The scope of the destruction wrought by this bill is breathtaking, said Steve Moyer, TUs Vice President for Government Affairs It rolls back the rules that protect water quality, puts the brakes on collaborative restoration programs in places like the Klamath River and de-funds vital conservation programs. It reverses years of progress and stifles habitat restoration programs just as we prepare to enter the field season. For cooperative conservation programs, it is truly an eviscerating bill, said Moyer.
The bill contains numerous harmful legislative riders, including:
- Stopping the Army Corps of Engineers and EPA from conducting a rulemaking to restore Clean Water Act protection for some wetlands and streams which were curtailed by two harmful and confusing Supreme Court decisions, Rapanos (2006) and SWANCC (2001).
- Removing funding for the Klamath River Dam Removal and Sedimentation Study, a necessary step toward eventually removing four dams and reopening 350 miles of salmon habitat.
- Removing the EPAs authority under the Clean Water Act to veto Army Corps authorized permits for the disposal of dredge and fill material and to designate as off limits certain areas for disposal of dredge and fill material.
- Preventing the use of federal funds to implement certain Chesapeake Bay pollution reduction programs, which help to restore coldwater habitat in the headwater areas of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
- Blocking the U.S. Forest Services Travel Management Plans, which were developed to prevent uncontrolled off-road vehicle use from damaging fish and wildlife habitat.
- De-funding the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Act, a law enacted last year with strong bipartisan support, which represents a broad coalition of restoration partners.
- Discontinuing rulemaking processes designed to protect streams from mountaintop removal mining.
Conservation is most effective when it is collaborative and science-based, said Moyer. The riders in HR 1 put a halt to the scientific processes being used by federal agencies to develop effective protections for rivers and streams, and stymie collaborative efforts in places like Californias Klamath River basin and San Joaquin watershed.
The bill also cuts funding for vital conservation programs:
- Eliminates funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund, a highly successful, landscape scale, partnership-driven effort;
- Cuts the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which enables conservation of habitats through purchase of fee title or easements from willing sellers around the nation, by $393 million from FY 2010 levels. Potentially hundreds of acres of land could fail to be conserved if this funding cut became law;
- Cuts the National Fish Habitat program, one of the best landscape scale fisheries habitat conservation programs in the federal government, by 28%;
- Drastically cuts funding for Great Lakes restoration;
- Eliminates funding for the State Fish and Wildlife Grants program, a bedrock partnership between state fish and wildlife agencies and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service;
- Cuts important Farm Bill conservation programs. Permanently cuts the Wetland Reserve Program by almost 50,000 acres and cuts the Environmental Quality Assurance Program by more than $350 million from authorized levels.
Hunters and angler conservationists are willing to shoulder our share of the burden for reducing federal discretionary spending, but a disproportionate burden should not be saddled on programs of critical value to sportsmen, said Moyer. We call on the U.S. Senate to draft a new version of this bill that is worthy of support of the sportsmen of the nation.
The U.S. Senate will work on its version of the short-term spending bill in the coming weeks.
Trout Unlimited is the nation’s largest coldwater conservation organization, with 140,000 members dedicated to conserving, protecting, and restoring North America’s trout and salmon fisheries and their watersheds.