Policy Pulse: President’s 2018 Budget Slashes Investment in Conservation, Fish and Wildlife

Wildlife Photography_credit Bob Wick BLM
On March 16, President Trump released his budget outline, which reflects the broad priorities of the administration. On virtually every issue of importance to the League – wildlife, natural resource conservation, clean air, and clean water – the administration’s priorities are sharply at odds with our priorities. The president’s budget slashes spending across the board except for national security, but it is particularly detrimental to environmental protection and jeopardizes the $646 billion outdoor recreation economy.

The Department of the Interior, which includes agencies that manage our national parks and wildlife refuges, would have its budget cut by $1.5 billion from current spending levels, which is about a 12% reduction. Funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund would decrease by $120 million while funding for energy production on public lands would increase.

The Department of Agriculture’s budget would be reduced by $4.7 billion (about 21%) from current spending levels. This budget would reduce funding to operate USDA’s community offices, forcing reductions in staff responsible for helping landowners implement conservation practices that protect our soil, water, and wildlife.

The Environmental Protection Agency takes the biggest hit in the budget proposal. The agency responsible for protecting the health of all Americans and our environment would see its funding gutted by roughly $2.6 billion (about 31%). The budget would eliminate all funding to reduce air pollution from power plants and eliminate funding for programs to restore the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay, cutting off efforts to restore wetlands, improve water quality, and fight invasive species.

The Izaak Walton League is committed to a future that protects clean air and water, conserves wildlife and wild places, and defends our conservation legacy. That commitment calls on us to reject the president’s proposed budget. The old adage that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” applies to national investment in conservation. Conserving natural resources now is more cost-effective than trying to restore what’s been lost later (which in many cases cannot be restored).

The White House is expected to release a more detailed budget request in May. As Congress considers the federal budget in the months ahead, we will press for funding to conserve natural resources vital to public health, fish and wildlife, and the outdoor recreation economy.