The President’s Fiscal Year 2015 discretionary budget request supports $1.5 billion in programs for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an increase of $48.8 million over the 2014 enacted level to fund the agency’s high priority needs. The budget also includes approximately $1.3 billion available under permanent appropriations, most of which will be provided directly to states to support fish and wildlife conservation and outdoor recreation.
“The Service’s budget request focuses our resources on providing outdoor opportunities for all Americans, protecting vanishing wildlife against illegal trafficking, and enabling economic growth through smart investments in conservation and landscape level planning,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “We are also proposing investments in our science programs to ensure we can make decisions based on the best available science.”
This budget funds administration, Secretarial, and Service priorities, including investing in landscape-level planning, supporting conservation and outdoor recreation through the America’s Great Outdoors program, and engaging the next generation through our public lands.
America’s Great Outdoors Initiative –
In 2015, a total of $1.5 billion is requested in current funding as part of the administration’s initiative to reconnect Americans to the outdoors. This includes $1.3 billion for operations, an increase of $71.7 million over the 2014 enacted level. America’s Great Outdoors fosters the intrinsic link between healthy economies and healthy landscapes to increase tourism and outdoor recreation in balance with preservation and conservation.
A critical component of America’s Great Outdoors is the National Wildlife Refuge System, for which $476.4 million is requested, an increase of $4.2 million. The Refuge System delivers conservation on a landscape level, including improving water quality, helping to mitigate flooding and providing important habitat for the survival and protection of endangered species. The Refuge System also offers recreational opportunities such as hunting, fishing, and wildlife watching.
The 2015 budget includes increases for programs funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a vital component of the America’s Great Outdoors initiative. The 2015 budget includes $168.8 million for land acquisition, which includes $55.0 million in current funding and $113.8 million in proposed permanent funding, an overall increase of $114.4 million above the 2014 enacted level.
Meanwhile, the budget requests $87.8 million for grant programs administered by the Service that support America’s Great Outdoors goals.
Powering Our Future –
The budget proposes $16.7 million, an increase of $2.5 million, for activities associated with energy development, including a program increase of $1.1 million for the Ecological Services Planning and Consultation program to support review of renewable energy projects. An increase of $1.4 million is proposed to analyze potential impacts of energy transmission in the American West and to identify strategies to mitigate negative impacts. The budget maintains funding for migratory bird conservation to help address the impact of development, particularly wind energy projects, on wildlife and wildlife habitat.
Engaging the Next Generation –
As a critical component of Secretary Jewell’s strategy for youth engagement, the budget includes $13.5 million for youth programs. The budget includes a $2.5 million increase for the Urban Wildlife Refuges Partnership, which will invite city dwellers to enjoy outdoor adventures by creating “stepping stones of engagement” to allow new audiences to connect easily with the outdoors. Through this effort, the Service will partner with local communities and educational organizations, such as minority-serving colleges and universities, to develop skilled local volunteers to support programs at urban wildlife refuges. At least one wildlife refuge is within an hour’s drive of most major cities and more than 260 wildlife refuges are near smaller cities.
Landscape Level Understanding –
The President’s budget proposal includes $65.8 million, an increase of $7.7 million, for critical efforts to develop landscape level data and translate that information into more effective management and conservation actions. This increase will support Landscape Conservation Cooperatives and science within the Service, funding efforts to learn how to most effectively conserve populations of fish, wildlife, and plants at landscape scales. Through 22 Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, the Service will work with partners to define shared conservation goals. With these goals in mind, partners can design where and how to take action within their own authorities and organizational priorities to best contribute to the larger conservation effort.
Cooperative Recovery –
Nearly 300 species listed as threatened or endangered are found in or around units of the Refuge System. In FY 2015, the Service requests a total of $7.7 million, an increase of $1.8 million over the FY 2014 enacted level, for cooperative recovery. This increase will support the Service’s cross-programmatic partnership approach for planning, restoration, and management actions to address threats to endangered species.
Wildlife Trafficking –
Wildlife trafficking has emerged as an international crisis, imperiling both conservation and global security. The poaching of African elephants for ivory and rhinos for their horns stands at unprecedented levels, and illegal trade is undermining the conservation of scores of other species. Between 2002 and 2011, the total population of forest elephants in Central Africa fell by an estimated 62%. Elephant massacres have taken place in Chad, Cameroon and the Central African Republic in the past year. Well-armed and organized criminal enterprises have taken advantage of insufficient protection in remote areas. The Service is requesting $3.0 million in increases for its Law Enforcement and International Affairs programs as part of the Administration’s new National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking.
Ecological Services –
The budget includes $252.2 million to conserve, protect, and enhance listed and at-risk fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitat, an increase of $30.3 million compared with the 2014 enacted level.
The Service is requesting a $4.0 million program increase in 2015 to support conservation of the greater sage grouse across 11 western States.
Conservation of sage grouse and its habitat will also conserve other species and help ensure the future of ranching and a developing energy economy central to western working landscapes. The Service will use this funding to help Federal, State, and private parties design, implement, and align conservation efforts to ensure they collectively meet the range-wide needs of the species.
Fish and Aquatic Conservation –
The budget includes $48.6 million, an increase of $2.1 million above the 2014 enacted level, for operations of the National Fish Hatchery System. The budget also includes an increase of $4.4 million to allow the Service to focus on limiting the spread of invasive Asian carp in major watersheds that are highly likely to have habitat suitable for self-sustaining populations, such as the Great Lakes, and the Missouri, Ohio, and upper Mississippi Rivers.
Legislative Proposals –
In addition, the budget contains a proposal to Congress to increase the cost of the Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, also known as the Duck Stamp, to $25. With the additional receipts, the Service anticipates acquisition of approximately 17,000 additional acres of waterfowl habitat, which would be of great benefit to waterfowl hunters. The Service is also proposing legislation to provide authority to recover compensation from responsible parties who injure or destroy Refuge System or Hatchery System resources. This authority is equivalent to that of the National Park Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and allows compensation to be applied directly to repair the damage.
To learn more about the President’s FY 2015 budget request for the Department of the Interior, visit: www.doi.gov/budget.
Logo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service