President’s Budget Sells Out America’s Wildlife and Wild Places

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Haley McKey, 202-772-0247, hmckey@defenders.org

WASHINGTON (May 23, 2017) – President Trump has released the administration’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2018. Contrary to its title, “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” it sells out one of our nation’s greatest legacies, our wildlife and natural heritage. The budget slashes the non-defense discretionary budget, which is the main source of funding for agencies that conserve and protect our environment and natural resources including the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service. The budget also proposes to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling. Finally, the budget includes funding for President Trump’s proposed border wall, which would have major consequences for native species like jaguars that need to move across the U.S.-Mexico border.

Statement from Defenders of Wildlife President and CEO Jamie Rappaport Clark:

“This budget is death by a billion cuts. It would gut the federal government’s ability to protect the health, safety and prosperity of all Americans. We’re particularly stunned by the devastating cuts to programs that conserve our natural resources and our lands, water and wildlife.

“You cannot make America great by destroying our natural heritage. President Trump’s proposal threatens the destruction of one of America’s last great wild places. As the crown jewel of America's public lands system, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge contains vital habitat for iconic species like polar bears, caribou, muskoxen and 200 species of migratory birds from all 50 states, and the native Gwich’in people depend on the land for their subsistence economy and cultural identity.

“This budget proposes drilling in one iconic area, the Arctic refuge, to help fund a damaging and useless border wall in another fragile landscape. It’s a bad deal to sell-off and sell-out vital wildlife habitat on public lands. Once these wild places are gone, they are gone for good. Furthermore, the Trump budget includes devastating and unacceptable cuts to vital conservation programs that are essential to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s mission of protecting, recovering and managing our nation’s native wildlife and helping to conserve wildlife globally.

“We owe it to our children and grandchildren to be good stewards of our environment and leave behind a legacy of protecting our air, land, water and wildlife. But this budget is a disaster that flies in the face of those values. We urge Congress to reject the President’s budget, block the border wall and stand up for the Arctic refuge.”

Background:

The president’s budget proposal calls for slashing $216 million from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) FY 2017 enacted discretionary budget, a 14.2 percent cut:

  • Funding for the National Wildlife Refuge System, the largest land and water system in the world dedicated to wildlife conservation, would be more than $90 million below the level needed just to keep up with the FY 2010 level adjusted for inflation. 
  • Funding to recover threatened and endangered species would be reduced by more than 5 percent even though more than 400 listed U.S. species do not have recovery plans and FWS receives less than 25 percent of the funding needed each year to implement all recovery actions identified in recovery plans.  
  • Funding to protect new species under the Endangered Species Act would be cut by nearly 17 percent, possibly leading to more species extinctions.  This reduction would severely hinder FWS from making progress with its seven-year listing workplan that allows the agency to prioritize over 350 species for listing decisions. 
  • Funding for cooperative recovery, a program that supports more efficient and strategic efforts across landscapes to recover threatened and endangered species on National Wildlife Refuges and surrounding lands, appears to be eliminated.
  • Funding for key FWS science programs would be eliminated.
  • Funding for Landscape Conservation Cooperatives, which have been working to address complex challenges across large landscapes such as climate change, would be eliminated.
  • Funding for the Wolf Livestock Loss Demonstration Program that assists livestock owners co-existing with wolves would be eliminated.
  • Funding for key grant programs that conserve wildlife both here in the U.S and internationally are severely cut. The Cooperative Endangered Species Fund, which provides grants to state to conserve threatened and endangered species, would be cut by nearly 64 percent.

Funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which supports land acquisition in our national wildlife refuges, parks, forests and other public lands, is slashed by a devastating 84 percent below the enacted level.

President Trump’s budget also calls for authorization of four lease sales in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, generating $1.8 billion over 10 years, and $1.6 billion in funding for the proposed Southwest border wall for FY 2018.

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 Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With nearly 1.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.