CONGRESSIONAL CAUCUS: FEDERAL BUDGET NEGLECTS CONSERVATION SYSTEM
A congressional caucus expressed concerns with the Bush administration's FY 2008 budget today for leaving funding for the prized BLM National Landscape Conservation System at rock-bottom levels.
The budget delivered to Congress Monday is the lowest since the Conservation System was created in 2000 to protect major conservation and historic areas in 13 western states. The System's monuments, conservation areas, trails and rivers would receive $32.5 million in fundingcompared to budgets ranging from $37 million to $46 million in past years. Since the Conservation System was created in 2000, the administration has continued to shrink its budget.
Led by co-chairs Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-AZ; Rep. Rick Renzi, R-AZ; Rep. Mary Bono, R-CA; and Rep. Jim Moran, D-VA, the National Landscape Conservation System Caucus was established in July 2006 to protect the network of the last places that provide the public a unique experience of the history and wild beauty of the American West.
Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-AZ, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands: "The National Landscape Conservation System represents the crown jewels of our public lands. Instead of cutting funds, the budget should provide additional funding to help protect these lands from ongoing threats and preserve them for future generations."
Rep. Rick Renzi, R-AZ: "Unlike the National Parks, there's no guarantee that the Conservation System will be around five years from now. These extraordinary places are being ruined by neglect. With an average of less than one ranger for every 200,000 acres, there's not enough staff to protect these lands from vandalism and misuse."
Rep. Mary Bono, R-CA: "We'll be taking a very close look at BLM funding priorities in light of the President's proposed budget. With national treasures like the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto National Monument, the budget boils down to $1.50 per acre for management of these magnificent lands. That won't work. If we make cost-effective investments now, we can protect these places that belong to every American."
Rep. Jim Moran, D-VA: "Conservation efforts on historic public lands are being short changed by this administration. Before issuing more destructive cattle grazing and oil drilling permits, we should provide public land managers the resources needed to protect and preserve our scenic vistas."
The 26 million-acre National Landscape Conservation System was established in 2000 to recognize and protect the best of the lands and waters managed by the BLM, including 15 National Monuments, 13 National Conservation Areas, Steens Mountain management area in Oregon, Headwaters Forest Reserve in northern California, 36 wild and scenic rivers, 148 wilderness areas, 4,264 miles of national trails, and more than 600 wilderness study areas.
Members of the NLCS Caucus are Mary Bono (R-CA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), James Moran (D-VA), Rick Renzi (R-AZ), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Shelley Berkley (D-NV), Lois Capps (D-CA), Ed Case (D-HI), Diana DeGette (D-CO), Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Jim Gerlach (R-PA), Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Jay Inslee (D-WA), Sue Kelly (R-NY), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Buck McKeon (R-CA), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Charles Taylor (R-NC), Mark Udall (D-CO), Tom Udall (D-NM), Heather Wilson (R-NM).