ICYMI: Congressional Budget Compromise: One Small Step Forward, One Big Step Back for Conservation Efforts

Congress provides for Greater Sage-grouse Conservation; Reduces Funding for Popular Bipartisan Land and Water Conservation Fund

The recent budget compromise to fund the government for the next five months increases funding for the greater sage-grouse conservation activities by $8.9 million. This increase makes clear that Congress has acknowledged the importance of this initiative, calling on federal, state, communities, industry and partners to work cooperatively.

“We take the funding increase for sage-grouse as a sign that Congress wants the administration to move forward with the plans as written – something that is at odds with Secretary Zinke’s recent comments on this issue,” said Chris Saeger, Executive Director of Western Values Project. “Secretary Zinke who has been been critical of the collaborative sage-grouse conservation efforts should abandon the ‘new approach’ he is working on and do the same.”

While the news on sage-grouse is encouraging, the budget reduced the important Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a program designed to conserve our natural areas, water resources and cultural heritage, by $50 million under enacted levels.

“A $50 million cut to LWCF should be disappointing to Secretary Zinke, who was a champion for this issue as a member of Congress. We’ll expect him to demand full funding for this important program,” added Saeger.

Zinke has advocated for a permanent reauthorization of LWCF, which is funded through earning from offshore oil and gas leasing, not tax dollars.

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