More than 400 agricultural, sportsmen, business and conservation groups sent letters to budget negotiators today calling for the protection of America’s natural resource funding.

America’s lands and waters protect people and generate jobs and billions of dollars each year to the national economy in fishing, hunting, other outdoor recreation, agriculture and other industries.

But federal spending on land, water, ocean and wildlife programs comprises only 1.26 percent of the total federal budget in 2010. As a miniscule share of the overall budget, conservation spending is not the cause of the nation’s budget instability, nor will making further cuts to these programs solve the deficit crisis. The groups signing the letters called on budget negotiators-led by Vice President Joe Biden-to avoid disproportionate cuts to natural resource programs.

“Even in these difficult financial times, we still need to ensure fish, wildlife and vital habitats are conserved for the benefits they bring to the American economy and to every American through cleaner and healthier environments,” said Ron Regan Executive Director of The Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies. “If federal agencies don’t have the funding to do their jobs, the burden falls on already challenged state fish and wildlife agencies and the resources suffer as a result.”

“Ducks Unlimited is well known for its fiscal conservatism. However, funding for cost-effective conservation programs that make a clear profit for the U.S. taxpayer, such as the North American Wetlands Conservation Act (http://www.ducks.org/conservation/public-policy/nawca?poe=release) , should not be reduced under the pretense of getting spending under control. Overall, hunting and fishing support more than 1.6 million jobs and generate more than $25 billion a year in federal, state and local taxes,” said Ducks Unlimited CEO Dale Hall.

You can see the two letters sent today to budget negotiators at: Letter signed by more than 30 sportsmen organizations: www.fishwildlife.org/files/ConservationFundingCuts_Letter.pdf

Letter signed by more than 350 conservation, agriculture and business groups: www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/function300conservatiofunding.pdf

Proposed cuts to natural resource spending could cause greater economic problems across the country as agriculture, hunting, fishing, outdoor recreation, forestry and other businesses that rely on natural resources lose revenue and jobs. Healthy forests, and farms, and the recreation industry that relies on healthy natural resources are the backbone of America’s rural communities.

  • America’s commercial fishing industry supports 1 million full- and part-time jobs and generates $116 billion in revenue each year.
  • Outdoor recreation contributes $730 billion annually to the American economy–hunting, angling and wildlife-related activities alone contribute $122 billion.
  • Healthy lands and waters are essential to the country’s agriculture industry, which is estimated to support around 24 million jobs.
  • The forestry industry alone accounts for five percent of total U.S. manufacturing GNP and employs 900,000 people.
  • A recent study found that every federal dollar invested in national parks generates at least four dollars of economic benefits to the public.

The House-passed budget resolution for FY12 cuts natural resource programs by 18 percent from 2010 levels and proposes to cut these programs by 46 percent by 2016. Conservation programs should shoulder their fair share of reduced spending. But our elected officials should not disproportionately target conservation and the protection of our lands, water, wildlife and clean air.

Recent polls have shown American voters overwhelmingly support protection of the nation’s lands and water and believe we can continue to protect our natural resources while strengthening the economy

Contact:
Laura MacLean, Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, lmaclean@fishwildlife.org, 202-624-7744
Emily Tyner, Ducks Unlimited, etyner@ducks.org, 202-347-1530
Karen Foerstel, The Nature Conservancy, kfoerstel@tnc.org, 917-652-2642
Jennifer E. Jones, American Forest Foundation, JJones@forestfoundation.org, 202-463-5188
Jennifer Morrill, American Farmland Trust, jmorrill@farmland.org, 202-378-1255
Robert F. Aldrich, Land Trust Alliance, raldrich@lta.org, (202) 638-4725 x 334
Anthony Hauck, Pheasants Forever, ahauck@pheasantsforever.org, 651-209-4972

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