From 2010 to 2013, the agencies tasked with conserving our wildlife and wild lands, have suffered an average 19 percent loss in funding - and funding for these federal conservation programs is once again on the financial chopping block.
The future of imperiled species and public lands rests heavily on our federal financial support decisions. But you can make a difference. Your member of Congress has until April 4th to tell the Appropriation Committees to increase funding for our wildlife and public lands.
Please send your message now, before it’s too late!
As a constituent and a member of Defenders of Wildlife, I am writing to urge you to support funding for the conservation of our nation's imperiled species during the FY 2015 budget and appropriations process.
Wildlife and its habitat are valuable national assets. Wildlife related recreation is a $145 billion per-year industry. Moreover, protecting wildlife and its habitat also supports healthy natural systems that provide clean air and water, food, medicines, flood protection and more. The value of benefits provided by natural habitats in the 48 contiguous states is estimated at $1.6 trillion per year. Funding for federal programs that protect imperiled species and other wildlife is crucial to maintaining this irreplaceable American heritage.
I therefore urge you to support funding for the following programs in your official request to the Appropriations Committee this year:
Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS): The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the primary federal agency responsible for conserving wildlife both domestically and internationally.
-Support the President's requested increase for FWS Endangered Species Activities under Ecological Services, $21.7 million for a total of $192.2 million. This increase will better enable the agency to list new species and review projects that could potentially impact listed species. Within this is the Endangered Species Recovery program, which supports work to restore more than 1,500 listed U.S. species so that Endangered Species Act protection is no longer necessary.
-Support the President's requested increase for Cooperative Recovery, $1.8 million for a total of $7.7 million. This is an innovative initiative to implement recovery actions for species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) on National Wildlife Refuges and surrounding lands. This initiative supports more efficient efforts across landscapes to recover threatened and endangered species.
U.S. Forest Service (FS): National Forests provide recreation and environmental benefits and serve as economic engines. A 2011 report found that wildlife-related recreation associated with national forests totals $9.5 billion in annual retail sales. More than 420 ESA listed plants and animals and 3,250 at-risk species are found on FS lands. Funding is vitally needed to maintain this critical recovery work including:
-At least $140.5 million for FS Wildlife and Fisheries Habitat Management, the FY 2014 level. This is the main program that supports work on FS lands to recover listed species.
Bureau of Land Management (BLM): The BLM manages 253 million acres more land, and more wildlife and fish habitat, than any other federal agency. The agency is responsible for more than 3,000 species of fish and wildlife, nearly 300 ESA listed or candidate species awaiting protection and more than 800 rare plant species. In states with significant BLM lands, wildlife enthusiasts spent $31 billion on wildlife-related recreation in 2012.
-Increase funding for the Threatened and Endangered Species Management Program by $1 million over the President's request for a total of $22.6 million. This is the program that supports work to recover ESA listed species on BLM lands. At the current level, the BLM only has funding to implement about 10 percent of the work it is required to do in recovery plans for listed species on BLM lands. The requested amount would simply return it to the 2010 funding level.
-Support the President's request for BLM's Wildlife Management Program, $52.6 million, which includes funding for conservation of the greater sage-grouse. This iconic bird has declined to less than 10 percent of its historic numbers and a decision whether to list it under the Endangered Species Act must be made by October, 2015. Almost half of all sagebrush habitat has been destroyed and the remaining habitat is fragmented and degraded. More than half of remaining sage-grouse habitat is located on BLM land.
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Again, I urge you to include funding for these programs in your official request to the Appropriations committee. I appreciate your attention to my concerns.
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