President's Budget Targets Nation's Wildlife, Refuges and Other Federal Lands for Cuts

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Clear Commitment to Resource Extraction Over Resource Conservation and Management

(02/06/2006) - Washington, D.C.-- The future is bleak for our nation’s wildlife, refuges and other federal lands in President Bush’s budget. With major cuts in the Land and Water Conservation Fund, National Wildlife Refuges and endangered species conservation, our nation’s wildlife resources are in jeopardy. Get a full analysis and review the Green Budget.

The budget this year shows an extraordinary 40 percent cut (total cut of $57.4 million) in the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The fund was established in 1964 to provide money to federal and state governments to purchase land, water and wetlands for the benefit of all Americans. Ironically, President Bush made a campaign promise to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The National Wildlife Refuge System took a serious hit as well. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs a $16 million increase each year to keep up with the current operations and maintenance backlog of the 545 National Wildlife Refuges, but instead it received a cut of nearly a million dollars. After a year that saw unprecedented and costly damage to numerous refuges due to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, these cuts will have a significant impact on their ability to recover.

Our refuges and other federal lands are not just being threatened by budgetary neglect, but also by the clear focus on resource extraction by this administration.

"Once again, the President has rolled out the tired old idea of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as the answer to our energy crisis," said Jamie Rappaport Clark, Executive Vice President of Defenders of Wildlife. "Drilling in this pristine wilderness will not solve our energy problems, reduce our dependence on foreign oil or lower gas prices. It is simply a gift to big oil companies already swimming in profits."

The future looks even more bleak for our nation’s endangered wildlife and the lands necessary to conserve them. President Bush’s budget reduces the endangered species recovery program by 10.4 percent for a whopping $7.7 million cut.

"These cuts to the endangered species program will condemn imperiled wildlife to a continued downward spiral," said Clark.

In addition to these direct cuts to the endangered species program, cuts where incurred by some of the most effective conservation programs. The Conservation Security Program, which rewards farmers for their efforts to be good stewards of the land, received a further $30 million cut from a baseline that had already been drastically reduced. The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program, which provides incentives for farmers to protect and restore habitat for endangered wildlife, was cut by an astounding 35 percent.

"It’s ironic that this administration preaches the need for incentive based programs to conserve our nation’s imperiled wildlife while at the same time making significant cuts to these same programs," said Clark.

Get a full analysis and review the Green Budget.

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Defenders of Wildlife is recognized as one of the nation's most progressive advocates for wildlife and its habitat. With more than 490,000 members and supporters, Defenders of Wildlife is an effective leader on endangered species issues.

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Contact(s):

Cindy Hoffman, (202) 772-3255

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