Roadkill: Lawmakers Throw Wildlife Under the Bus

Senate committee approves agriculture funding bill that slashes funds for wildlife and conservation

09-08-2011 // Mekell Mikell
Cattle ranching

The Senate Appropriations committee approved a 2012 funding bill that slashes over $725 million in conservation funding from programs that help farmers, ranchers, and foresters across the country to protect soil, conserve water and enhance wildlife habitat. The conservation programs that were cut directly benefit sportsmen and rural economies through the creation of hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreational opportunities.

“The Senate Appropriations Committee voted to balance the budget at the expense of clean water, healthy soil and wildlife populations,” said Aviva Glaser, agriculture policy coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation. “It is unacceptable that our leaders in Washington continue to disproportionately target conservation and wildlife programs without taking into account their benefits for the environment and for rural economies.”

The National Wildlife Federation is particularly outraged by the hugely disproportionate cuts to key programs that are critical for keeping wildlife on the landscape. The bill slices funding in half for the Grasslands Reserve Program, which helps farmers protect and restore native grasslands and provide habitat for dwindling populations of grassland birds. Another big target is the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, which helps landowners create wildlife habitat on working landscapes. This program faces a 41 percent cut. The Voluntary Public Access Program, which encourages farmers to make their land accessible to the public for hunting, fishing and other wildlife-based recreational opportunities, is completely wiped out in the 2012 funding bill.

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