Consider using this message as an email or letter to your members of Congress regarding proposed budget cuts to wetland and waterfowl conservation.
Dear Congressman/Senator XX:
I write to express concern about the cuts being proposed in the House’s version of the temporary funding bill. I am concerned about a range of impacts to wildlife but I am particularly concerned about programs that serve waterfowl.
“The North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA), like most habitat efforts supported by hunters and anglers, is a program that represents cost effectiveness and sound fiscal policy. For every $1 dollar of money that is invested in the program, an average of $3.2 dollars is raised to match the federal share by NON-FEDERAL entities. Some of that match is provided by private groups like Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever. In these times of diminishing federal budgets, programs like NAWCA, which has a strong demonstrable track record of taking $1 dollar of federal money and turning it into more than $4 dollars for on the ground, non-regulatory, incentive based wildlife habitat conservation, should not be cut. NAWCA represents the kind of value that all political philosophies should support. It should be funded based on tangible results and economic value.
Another disturbing cut to a critical wildlife conservation program is the zeroing out of State Wildlife Grants (SWG’s). Across the country, and especially in our state, fish and game agencies are responsible for making sure that we have healthy populations of wildlife, not just for hunting and fishing, but for the protection of threatened and at-risk species. As a hunter, I know that protecting wetlands for waterfowl also benefits a number of other species that are not hunted or fished yet depend on wetlands for survival. The same is true with the protection of critical habitat for threatened species, which is what the SWG funds are used for in our state. Not only do they give the states the needed money to provide wildlife habitat to recover at risk species, but those habitats also help game species.
At a time when many have derided the use of congressional riders in appropriations bills, we are concerned about language in the appropriations bill that would prevent restoring protection to millions of acres of wetlands, including the prairie potholes. Those wetlands are incredibly important for maintaining waterfowl populations. In considering cases concerning wetlands protection, several Supreme Court justices including Chief Justice Roberts have called for federal agencies with jurisdiction to conduct review and discussion in order to clarify the intent of the law. We ask that you support removing this rider and allow the agencies to engage the public in discussions regarding the problem and possible solutions.
Willing seller land conservation is a concept that has been supported by both political parties. Much land now considered as national treasures has been conserved in this way. This is especially true in areas important to wildlife in America’s northern Great Plains. There longtime owners are embracing the idea of conserving their family’s tradition of ranching and seeing the land in a wide open state. They are lined up by the hundreds hoping for the chance to make sure their lands are kept wild and open. We ask that you support land acquisition funding for the Fish and Wildlife Service to purchase willing seller easements in the prairie pothole area of the country.
Hunters and anglers in the United States spend about $76 billion dollars a year. That’s an amazing $208 million dollars per day pursuing their passions. Many of those passions have been passed down through generations of Americans since the founding of our country. For generations hunters and anglers have also placed high priority on taking care of the land and water so that in return it can support abundant fish and wildlife populations. It makes sense. We also understand and appreciate fiscal discipline, which is exactly why we support wildlife programs, like NAWCA, that generate more than three dollars of match for every one dollar of federal money allocated. Overall, hunting and fishing support more than 1.6 million jobs and generate more than $25 billion dollars a year in federal, state, and local taxes. When you cut programs like NAWCA and SWG’s, you jeopardize those jobs, as well as the wildlife resources that generate those jobs. I urge you to restore funding to these critical wildlife programs and thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.