We decided to keep blogging here for now while we finish up our new blog on our brand new website (http://www.ctaudubon.org) because there are too many conservation issues and exciting birds to hold off on posting. We will keep you updated on it. For now, here is a message from our Senior Director of Science and Conservation and Conservation Advocate, Milan Bull.
The final FY2011 spending bill, enacted on 15 April, was devastating to bird-related conservation issues, but fortunately less drastic than in earlier proposed versions (e.g., H.R. 1).
Essential programs, such as the funding for the North American Wetland Conservation Act (NAWCA), the State Wildlife Grants, and the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) were initially recommended for elimination, or drastic reductions, in the original House-passed H.R.1. Instead, they were “only” drastically slashed, with some of these and similar programs receiving cuts of one-third the 2010 levels.
Consider these numbers:
The North American Wetlands Conservation Fund ended up at $37.5 million, down 21 percent from FY10 ($47.65 million), but up from $0, proposed in the original H.R. 1.
The State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program is to be funded at $62 million – a reduction of 31 percent from 2010 (i.e., $90 million) and the lowest level for the program in its 10-year history. This is up from $0 proposed in H.R. 1.
Funding for LWCF was put at $301 million – a 33-percent reduction from last year, but up from $244 million proposed in H.R. 1.
The Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act was reduced to $4 million, a reduction of 20 percent from $5 million last year.
The Wetlands Reserve Program, a crucial Farm Bill element, is reduced $119 million from FY10.
EQIP, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, is reduced $80 million from last year.
The Conservation Stewardship Program, another USDA effort, is reduced $39 million.
At the agency level, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will have to function with a $118-million drop in its overall operations budget.
Most of the anti-conservation riders originally attached to H.R. 1 were removed from the final bill. This includes one that would have undercut the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to restore protections for certain wetlands and streams. Still, the final budget bill includes language that would undermine EPA’s efforts to reduce pollution from mountaintop coal mining and mercury emissions from power plants; stop the BLM’s new Wild Lands Policy (issued in late December and clarifying how BLM lands with wilderness characteristics are to be inventoried, described, and managed); and remove gray wolves from Endangered Species protection in a number of states.
With the battle over FY2011 ended, deep concern mounts over how drastic the budget cuts might be for FY 2012.
For more details, see this summary from the Wildlife Management Institute:
Thanks to the Birding Community eBulletin for this report: http://www.refugenet.org