Today, the Trump Administration released its detailed Fiscal Year 2020 budget request to Congress. Unfortunately, this request is very similar to the last two years, and proposes deep and counterproductive cuts in conservation, environmental protection, and public land management. The administration’s proposal jeopardizes public health and the $887 billion outdoor recreation economy.
The Department of the Interior, which oversees national parks and national wildlife refuges, would see its budget cut by $2 billion compared to current levels, or about a 14% reduction. The Land and Water Conservation Fund, which conserves public land and water on behalf of all Americans and funds local outdoor recreation projects, would be slashed by more than 95%.
The Department of Agriculture’s budget would be reduced by $3.6 billion, or about 15%, from current funding levels. Key conservation investments are targeted for deep cuts. For example, funding for the implementation of comprehensive conservation practices on farms is eliminated. Other reductions could prevent farmers from enrolling whole fields in critical conservation and water quality programs and reduce the number of wetlands protected by easements.
The Environmental Protection Agency again takes the biggest hit in the budget proposal. The agency responsible for protecting human health and the environment would see its funding cut by about a third, roughly $2.8 billion. For example, the budget would slash funding to restore the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay by 90%. Recent investments in large-scale restoration have been instrumental in restoring wetlands, improving water quality, and fighting invasive species.
The budget to restore habitat for fish and wildlife along the Missouri River would be reduced from $32 million to almost $18 million. On a positive note, for the second year in a row, the administration would maintain level funding (about $33 million) for similar restoration efforts along the Upper Mississippi River in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
Overall, the League’s biggest priorities – like conservation, clean air, and clean water –are not reflected in this budget request. Now the process moves from the President's desk to Capitol Hill. The League will continue working with Congress and the administration to craft a 2020 budget that better reflects conservation priorities, and as things move along, we will keep you informed and let you know when to contact your lawmakers and ask them to stand up for clean air, clean water, and the outdoor recreation economy.