Investments in America’s Water, Public Lands, Environmental Justice to Pay Dividends for Wildlife

Appropriations Process Also Falls Short for Land and Water Conservation Fund

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The House Appropriations Committee’s proposed investments in America’s waterways and water infrastructure, public lands and refuges, key conservation programs and the Environmental Protection Agency’s environmental justice programs will pay dividends for America’s wildlife heritage. The National Wildlife Federation welcomed the committee’s Fiscal Year 2020 Interior-EPA spending bill as well as lawmakers’ decision to keep it free from dangerous and counterproductive provisions.

The appropriations process is where Congress shows what it values. We’re gratified the House Appropriations Committee has chosen to support key programs that are foundational to America’s natural and wildlife heritage, including making substantial investments in Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay, Gulf of Mexico, and Everglades restoration programs, and other waterways and water infrastructure,” said Laura Daniel Davis, vice president for conservation strategy at the National Wildlife Federation. “We’re also pleased to see lawmakers increasing funding to the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants, the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds and the EPA Environmental Justice activities. These commitments for the next fiscal year are important and show the House of Representatives is working to ensure our public lands, wildlife, waters and natural resources endure for future generations.”

The House Appropriations Committee’s plan includes:

  • $514 million for the National Wildlife Refuge System ($26 million above FY19 enacted).
  • $71 million for State and Tribal Wildlife Grants ($6 million above FY19 enacted), although more is needed to address the wildlife crisis.
  • $3.1 billion for Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds ($345 million above FY19 enacted and $1.13 billion above President’s request)
  • $10.2 million for EPA Environmental Justice activities (47 percent increase above FY19 enacted).

In addition to these critical investments in conservation and resilience, the National Wildlife Federation urged lawmakers to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which Congress permanently reauthorized in February. The Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is authorized to invest $900 million each year into America’s parks, trails and public lands, is rarely funded at that level by Congress.

“The funding increase for the Land and Water Conservation Fund is a good step, but it nonetheless falls short and underscores why this landmark program needs full, dedicated funding,” said Tracy Stone-Manning, associate vice president for public lands at the National Wildlife Federation. “Even as Congress makes a strong argument for full, dedicated funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund in a separate bill, Congress has demonstrated that Americans cannot rely on the annual appropriations process to consistently invest in the parks, trails and public spaces that support our wildlife heritage and outdoor recreation economy.”

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