Daily Archives: June 28, 2015

Glassing the Hill: June 22-26

 

The TRCP’s scouting report on sportsmen’s issues in Congress

 

By Kristyn Brady

Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

 

Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.

Congress may look like it’s getting an early start on spending bills, but we’re pretty sure they’re going nowhere for a while. This week, the House will vote on its appropriations bill for the Department of Interior and EPA. The spending plan would shortchange key conservation programs and target the Obama administration’s environmental and climate change programs. The bill allocates a total of $30.17 billion for the Department of the Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. Forest Service. These disappointing numbers are $246 million below fiscal year 2015 funding levels and represent historically low funding for conservation.

 

Add to that some damaging policy riders—which would delay the listing of the greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act and undermine the recently released clean water rule that clarifies Clean Water Act protections for headwater streams and wetlands—and you’ve got some serious political posturing. As many expected, the GOP-crafted appropriations bill also targets the EPA in a number of these riders and seeks to reduce EPA staff.

 

There is language prohibiting the Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management from ordering new closures of public lands to hunting and recreational shooting.

 

Here are the highlights of the House spending bill:

  • The Environmental Protection Agencyreceived $7.4 billion, a 9% funding decrease
    • $69 million cut to regulatory programs.
  • Payments in Lieu of Taxes program is fully funded at $452 million
  • Bureau of Land Management (BLM) received $1.1 billion, a $30 million increase from FY15
  • The National Park Servicereceived $2.7 billion, a $53 million increase over FY15
    • $52 million was provided to address the frequently-discussed maintenance backlog
  • The U.S. Forest Servicereceived $1.4 billion, an $8 million decrease in funding from FY15 levels
    • $3.6 billion provided to DOI and USFS to combat wildfires
    • $92 million for the Flame Wildfire Suppression Reserve Fund
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) received $1.4 billion, an $8 million decrease from FY15 funding levels
  • North American Wetland Conservation Fund (NAWCA) received $35 million
  • State and Tribal Wildlife Grants received $59.195 million

 

The grass isn’t any greener for other agencies. On Thursday, the House Appropriations Committee will mark up its fiscal year 2016 spending bill for the Agriculture Department and Food and Drug Administration. The $20 billion spending package features significant cuts to key conservation programs:

  • Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)
    • Enrollment cut by 23%
    • Reduction from 10 to 7.74 million acres.
    • Or a 5-year cut of $200 million
  • Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP)
    • $300 million cut
  • Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP)
    • $35 million cut
  • Conservation Operations (i.e. on-the-ground technical assistance and program delivery)
    • $13.5 million cut

 

The spending plan also features a controversial policy rider that would delay implementation of conservation compliance, a program that requires farmers receiving federal crop insurance to implement conservation practices aimed at improving soil and water quality. The rider would not preclude the U.S. Department of Agriculture from employing compliance, as needed, but would allow the agency to continue to provide subsidies for a year without requiring conservation compliance across the board.

 

More information on the bill can be found here.

 

Range Schools focus on planning beyond this year

 

“When you are trying to get through the current grazing season, planning for your forage needs this coming winter, and balancing a dozen jobs that need to be done now – it is hard to think about what you should be considering for next year, two years out, or even in 10 years, said Tim Christian, state coordinator for the Kansas Grazing Lands Coalition (KGLC). “The 2015 KGLC Range Schools will provide a 3-day period when you can begin that thought process.”

 

The Mid-/Shortgrass Range School runs from August 4-6 at Camp Lakeside, Lake Scott, and the Tallgrass Range School is set for August 18-20 at Camp Wood YMCA, Elmdale with the theme Sustaining Rangelands by Leaving A Legacy, Christian said. The 2015 registration fee is $350 per person and covers course materials, on-site lodging and meals, and other related costs.  Ranchers, landowners, and students may qualify for a $175 scholarship if they meet eligibility and request one using KGLC’s scholarship form. Agency staffs may qualify for $125 in scholarships. The form and more information on the Schools is available at www.kglc.org under 2015 Range Schools found in the navigation bar. Scholarship applications must be submitted by July 24 for the Mid-/Shortgrass School and August 7 for the Tallgrass School.

 

Scholarship financial support comes from many of our KGLC partnering individuals, organizations and agencies. Current sponsors include USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Kansas State University Research and Extension; US Fish and Wildlife Service Kansas Partners Program; Kansas Section of the Society for Range Management; The Nature Conservancy; William F. Bradley, Jr.; Trust; Richard and Pat Schroder; and Feed-Lot Magazine.

 

KGLC organized in 1991 as a non-profit educational organization and its vision is to regenerate Kansas grazing lands. This is achieved through the management, economics, ecology, production, and technical assistance programs provided by voluntary methods to reach landowners, ranchers, and others making decisions on grazing lands.

 

For more information on the 2015 KGLC Range Schools, contact Tim Christian, state coordinator, at 620-242-6440, email to [email protected]. You may also go to the web at www.kglc.org.