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President’s Budget Threatens Bird Conservation and Public Lands

American Bird Conservancy Statement on Proposed 2018 Budget

(Washington, D.C., March 16, 2017) President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget would gut major programs and protections for birds and for America’s public lands, and put decades of conservation work at risk. American Bird Conservancy urges all Americans who care about our nation’s wildlife and natural resources to tell Congress that such extreme cuts will not fly.

The drastic level of cuts being proposed will mean much less on-the-ground conservation at a time when one-third of migratory bird species are in decline,” said Steve Holmer, American Bird Conservancy’s Vice President of Policy. “We know that conservation works, and that birds are hugely popular with the American people. We’re hopeful that when lawmakers hear from their constituents, these proposed cuts will be shelved.

Three agencies essential to protecting birds and habitats would be among the hardest hit:

* The Department of Agriculture’s budget would be cut by $4.7 billion—a 21 percent decrease from last year’s funding levels. At risk are key programs such as the Regional Conservation Partnership Program, the Conservation Reserve Program, Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the NRCS’s Working Lands for Wildlife. These programs provide support to farmers to conserve and restore habitats, potentially preventing the need to list species of conservation concern under the Endangered Species Act.

* The Department of the Interior would lose $1.5 billion—a 12 percent decrease. That would put at risk essential migratory bird conservation laws and programs including the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, the Migratory Bird Joint Ventures, State Wildlife Grants, the North American Wetland Conservation Act, and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The proposed budget’s emphasis on energy development on public lands would also put at risk progress on conserving sagebrush habitat, late-successional forests, and desert streams that are essential for the conservation of declining species such as the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher (shown). More funding, not less, is required if we are to turn the tide for endangered species.

* The Environmental Protection Agency would be cut by $2.6 billion—a 31 percent decrease. Such a severe cut would require extreme staff reductions and threaten to undermine the agency’s ability to function effectively. To protect human health and wildlife, EPA needs additional resources, not a budget reduction. Without adequate funding, the agency will have significantly reduced capacity to protect birds and other wildlife from neonicotinoid pesticides and other harmful chemicals.

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Jennifer Howard, Director of Public Relations, American Bird Conservancy

17th March 2017