Think the Super Bowl battle was big? Fight over conservation funding looms larger
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Condensed by Native Village
More than 100,000,000 Americans watched the Super Bowl this year. But the Steelers and Packers battle was NOTHING compared to one that's looming -- the battle over federal spending that could decimate pristine forests, pollute our air and water, close national parks and more.
“The Super Bowl was just a warm-up compared to what really matters right now,” said William H. Meadows, from The Wilderness Society. “Congress is pitted in a high-stakes contest that could run out the clock on protections for our public lands. The outcome of the votes it casts this month could produce dire consequences that affect every person in America.”
Meadows says fight centers around this year’s budget bill. Many members of Congress want to slash conservation spending by up to 40%. This could mean the end of vital programs and services that protect public health and preserve habitat for wildlife. Among the worst plays the new Congress could run include:
• Closing National Parks and Wildlife Refuges
• Cutting back on forest rangers, youth outdoor education, and law enforcement
• Limiting access to hunting and fishing, slashing local jobs, and not protecting our clean water supplies
• Putting off maintenance projects, weed treatment, restoration work, timber cutting, and managing wildfire
• Preventing federal agencies from moving forward with their legal responsibility to protect wild lands, wildlife habitat, and watersheds
“Conservationists should throw a penalty flag for clipping funding for the air we breathe, water we drink and lands we love,” said Craig Gehrke from The Wilderness Society.
While details of Congress's proposals are still emerging, The Wilderness Society will battle Congress if it:
Fails to fund the Legacy Roads and Trails Remediation Program. This would threaten the drinking water of 66,000,000 people and eliminate up to 2,500 jobs. This program pays for maintaining roads and trails, maintenance work, road removal projects that improve the health of local watersheds.
Reduces funds to local communities to help them defend themselves against wildfires. The Forest Service could be forced to borrow funds from other vital programs and services to cover firefighting costs.
Cuts to the Land and Water Conservation Fund of more than 50% could mean losing 100 parcels of natural land. The land would be open for development which would block hunting and fishing access and create barriers which prevent wildlife from migrating.
Cuts to the Department of Interior would close several beloved national parks and wildlife refuges. Those remaining open will have limited resources for youth programs, maintenance, trash removal and public safety.
“This attack on funding for our public lands is unacceptable,” Meadows said. “It’s time for Congress to call an audible on rash spending cuts. Let’s score the investments necessary to protect the places we love and the natural resources we need to survive."