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Policy Pulse: Trump Administration Proposes Deep Cuts to Conservation

Outdoor America 2019 Issue 2
Algae Bloom Warding Sign_credit USGS

In March, the Trump Administration submitted its detailed budget request for Fiscal Year 2020 to Congress.

Unfortunately, this request follows the pattern of the past two years, proposing deep and counterproductive cuts in conservation, environmental protection, and public land management. The administration’s proposed budget jeopardizes public health and the $887 billion annual outdoor recreation economy.

The Department of the Interior, which includes national parks and national wildlife refuges, would see its budget cut by $2 billion compared with current levels (about a 14-percent reduction). Funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) would be slashed by more than 95 percent (despite the president signing into law a bill that permanently reauthorizes this program).

The Department of Agriculture’s budget would be reduced by $3.6 billion (about 15 percent) from current funding levels. Key conservation investments are targeted for deep cuts. For example, funding to implement comprehensive conservation practices on farms is eliminated.

Other reductions could prevent farmers from enrolling whole fields in critical conservation and water quality programs and would 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 roughly $2.8 billion. Funding to restore the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay would be reduced by 90 percent, despite the fact that recent investments in large-scale restoration have been instrumental in restoring wetlands, improving water quality, and fighting invasive species.

The budget to restore habitat and 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.