From Backcountry Hunters & Anglers:
WASHINGTON – The administration’s $6.8 trillion proposed budget for fiscal year 2024 increases funding for key resource management agencies as well as for programs that would address pressing conservation issues affecting fish and wildlife and public lands and waters.
The Department of the Interior would receive a 12 percent increase, or an additional $2 billon, over FY23 enacted levels. The Department of Agriculture discretionary budget would receive a 14.4 percent increase, or an additional $4.7 billion over FY23 enacted levels.
Notably the proposal would invest in expanding biodiversity by increasing key programs and funding for the National Wildlife Refuge System, Endangered Species Act implementation and the conservation of migratory birds and fisheries. The Fish and Wildlife Service budget request is $2.08 billion, or an increase of 17.7 percent. Included in this figure is an $83 million increase for the National Wildlife Refuge System as well as a 30 percent increase, translating to an additional $19 million, for the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, which facilitates voluntary conservation activities on private lands.
The proposed budget would provide a $141 million boost to the Bureau of Land Management, with program funding for Wildlife Habitat Management and Aquatic Resources receiving a 13.5 percent increase. At the USDA, the Forest Service would receive $2.22 billion, or $252 million over FY23 enacted levels. This includes a 56 percent increase in funding for hazardous fuels reduction that would allow the agency to mitigate wildfire risk on 4.2 million acres in high priority and high-risk areas, a significant investment in prioritizing the USFS 10-Year Wildfire Crisis Strategy.
While the proposal is largely positive, it includes only a $30 million request for funding to clean up abandoned hardrock mine sites, less than half of last year’s $65 million request. Cost estimates to clean up abandoned mines are as high as $54 billion. The bipartisan infrastructure package passed in late 2021 authorized $3 billion for this important work, and Backcountry Hunters & Anglers encourages Congress to appropriate at least $287 million to begin reclamation of abandoned hardrock mines, which represent the largest source of pollution in the United States.
BHA President and CEO Land Tawney commended the proposed increases in conservation-related work, calling the draft budget a “starting point” in likely heated negotiations between lawmakers that will follow in the divided Congress.
“The administration’s proposal addresses key needs identified by resource managers and scientists and advocated for by hunters, anglers and citizens from all walks of life,” said Tawney. “We appreciate the hard work by President Biden and his cabinet leaders to enhance America’s public lands and waters, the fish and wildlife that rely on them, and the opportunities for challenge, solitude and adventure they provide.
“More remains to be done, however,” Tawney continued. “We look forward to working with the administration and Congress to ensure we meet our shared obligations to the stewardship of our nation’s natural resources.”
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