Last week the House of Representative's passed HR1 their budget for the current fiscal year. The budget includes massive budget cuts however among the most severely impacted programs are those which protect and restore populations of wild salmon and the watersheds that support them. These programs represent a tiny fraction of the governments current expenditures and sadly are for the most part politically motivated. Among the provisions in the House's version of the budget are:
- Stopping the Army Corps of Engineers and EPA from conducting a rulemaking to restore Clean Water Act protection for some wetlands and streams which were curtailed by two harmful and confusing Supreme Court decisions, Rapanos (2006) and SWANCC (2001).
- Removing funding for the Klamath River Dam Removal and Sedimentation Study, a necessary step toward eventually removing four dams and reopening 350 miles of salmon habitat.
- Removing the EPA’s authority under the Clean Water Act to veto Army Corps authorized permits for the disposal of dredge and fill material and to designate as off limits certain areas for disposal of dredge and fill material.
- Blocking the U.S. Forest Service’s Travel Management Plans, which were developed to prevent uncontrolled off-road vehicle use from damaging fish and wildlife habitat.
- De-funding the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement Act, a law enacted last year with strong bipartisan support, which represents a broad coalition of restoration partners.
- Discontinuing rulemaking processes designed to protect streams from mountaintop removal mining.
- Eliminates funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund, a highly successful, landscape scale, partnership-driven effort;
- Cuts the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which enables conservation of habitats through purchase of fee title or easements from willing sellers around the nation, by $393 million from FY 2010 levels. Potentially hundreds of acres of land could fail to be conserved if this funding cut became law;
- Cuts the National Fish Habitat program, one of the best landscape scale fisheries habitat conservation programs in the federal government, by 28%;
- Drastically cuts funding for Great Lakes restoration;
- Eliminates funding for the State Fish and Wildlife Grants program, a bedrock partnership between state fish and wildlife agencies and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service;
- Cuts important Farm Bill conservation programs. Permanently cuts the Wetland Reserve Program by almost 50,000 acres and cuts the Environmental Quality Assurance Program by more than $350 million from authorized levels.