Conservationists Celebrate Historic Conservation Funding Agreement

(10/02/2000) - Washington, DC - Sept. 29, 2000 - "Conservationists everywhere should today be celebrating the historic agreement just reached by key congressional budget negotiators and the White House to provide billions of dollars of new, dedicated funding for a broad range of federal and state conservation programs," said Rodger Schlickeisen, president of Defenders of Wildlife.

The agreement is the product of efforts over the past two years by the Clinton Administration, Hill supporters, and conservation interests, and has been included in the Interior appropriations conference report. The conference report is expected to be approved by the full House and Senate next week and then sent to the President for signature.

"For federal and state land acquisition programs, the agreement establishes a new, multi-year, multi-billion dollar, dedicated fund that replaces the current paper funding authorization that in years past has only led to ever larger ‘conservation deficits’," said Schlickeisen.

The agreement would provide dedicated funding over the next six years for numerous conservation programs, including the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Although the LWCF was established in 1964 to provide significant annual funding for federal and state land purchases for conservation and recreation purposes, the program has been chronically underfunded by past congresses and presidents, who have diverted the funding to other programs. Funding is also provided for other important conservation programs including ones to aid endangered species and other declining wildlife, fight urban sprawl, preserve forest land, protect coasts, and promote historic preservation. Funding over the next six years for all the programs together totals $12 billion, almost all of which is new.

The funding agreement is a compromise between a Lands Legacy proposal made by President Clinton in his February budget request to Congress, popular bipartisan legislation called the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA) and a proposal made last week by Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA). CARA has the overwhelming support of environmentalists, mayors, recreational interests, historic preservationist advocates and others, but the legislation still includes provisions that could undermine its own conservation objectives. Efforts to further improve the bill continue, but the Senate leadership is declining to take it to the full Senate for a vote.

"Everyone who cares about the future of conservation in the U.S. should send a huge ‘thank you’ to Rep. Norm Dicks and the Clinton-Gore White House who together led the negotiators to this amazing agreement," said Schlickeisen.

Defenders of Wildlife is a leading nonprofit conservation organization recognized as one of the nation’s most progressive advocates for wildlife and its habitat. With more than 400,000 members and supporters, Defenders of Wildlife is an effective leader on endangered species issues.



Cat Lazaroff, (202) 772-3270