Feb 16, 2011

Budget Chasm: Obama vs. House Republicans

Walking the talk on America’s Great Outdoors, President Obama’s FY 2012 budget prioritized land conservation and recreation infrastructure. Underscoring the role public lands and outdoor lifestyles play in our nation’s physical and economic health, the president called for $900 million or full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund in FY 2012 — including $375 million for federal land acquisition and $200 million for Stateside grants, administered under a new competitive process.

In a budget where the president proposed eliminating 200 federal programs and cutting the EPA by $1.3 billion, funding for federal land management, conservation and recreation programs remained basically flat or saw small increases.

Highlighting one federal agency, Obama called for $1 billion for Bureau of Land Management operations, including a $29.9 million increase for outdoor-related programs in support of the AGO initiative; a $15 million increase for the BLM’s 27 million-acre National Landscape Conservation System — which includes designated Wilderness, Wilderness Study Areas, National Monuments, and National Conservation Areas — and an additional $7 million for outdoor recreation management.

By contrast, House Republicans unveiled HR 1 — a bill designed to cut $100 billion in “discretionary” federal spending. In targeting outdoor industry priorities, they would cut LWCF funding by $532.6 million leaving just $86.4 million. Of the reduction, $329 million would come from federal land acquisition and the $50 million for Stateside of the fund would be eliminated — providing no funding for state and local parks, trails and open space. The bill would also block Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar’s “wild lands” program by shutting off BLM funding to manage the new program.