House Casts a Vote for Conservation in Advancing Budget Bill

News for Immediate Release
March 22, 2018
Contact: Katie McKalip, 406-240-9262,
mckalip@backcountryhunters.org

  

House Casts a Vote for Conservation
in Advancing Budget Bill

Massive spending package includes gains for key resource agencies,
programs of critical importance to fish and wildlife,
hunters and anglers, U.S. lands and waters

WASHINGTON – Public lands sportsmen and women offered measured praise for a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill for fiscal year 2018 that increases funding of key natural resource programs and largely rejects cuts proposed by the Trump administration earlier this year.

The Interior Department would receive $13.1 billion for FY 18 in the omnibus, a significant boost from the $11.7 billion recommended by the administration, with the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service both receiving funding increases. The House of Representatives voted its approval of the package this afternoon, and the Senate is expected to consider the measure no later than tomorrow, potentially heading off a government shutdown set to begin at midnight on Friday.

BHA President and CEO Land Tawney lauded congressional leaders for brokering the bipartisan deal, singling out measures of particular importance to fish and wildlife and hunters and anglers.

“Over the past year we have seen too many threats to U.S. conservation and our hunting and fishing traditions," said Tawney. "This week, Congress listened to the American people and took action. Our elected leaders showed admirable leadership by investing not only in our outdoor heritage but also in the $887 billion generated annually by our outdoors-dependent economy.

"Our work is not finished, and many challenges remain," Tawney continued. "But today, we can celebrate a real victory in the name of conservation, our fish and wildlife populations and our U.S. public lands.”

Notable details in the omnibus include the following:

  • $1.332 billion in total funding for the BLM, an increase of $79 million from FY 2017 enacted levels that includes a $50 million increase to address public lands maintenance backlogs;
  • increased funding for sage grouse conservation, including $60.125 million for resource management planning, an increase of $8 million from FY 2017 enacted levels, with the BLM directed to focus funding on greater sage grouse, sage steppe and other high priority conservation areas;
  • reauthorization of the Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act, a land exchange program and critical tool for Western public lands conservation;
  • $1.595 billion in total funding for the USFWS, an increase of $75 million from FY 2017 enacted levels that includes a $53 million increase to address maintenance backlogs, primarily on national wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries;
  • $40 million to the North American Wetlands Conservation Act grants program, the largest appropriation since 2010 and one that will continue to support waterfowl, wildlife, fisheries and economic contributions across the continent;
  • a seven-year fix to the “fire borrowing” problem that addresses wildfire funding and also forest management reforms and other conservation priorities;
  • $3.054 billion in total non-fire funding for the U.S. Forest Service, an increase of $627 million from FY 2017 enacted levels that includes a $35 million increase to address maintenance backlogs on national forest lands;
  • $3.828 billion for wildland fire management by the Forest Service;
  • $425 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, an increase of $25 million from FY 2017 enacted levels, including $24.916 million provided specifically for land acquisitions, and a directive to DOI administration officials to expeditiously complete all proposed and existing projects without further delay;
  • a directive reissued to the Department of the Interior and U.S. Forest Service to develop solutions that address bighorn sheep disease and die-offs.

Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is the sportsmen’s voice
for our wild public lands, waters and wildlife.

 

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