Finally, some good news for conservation from Washington DC – Congress passed an omnibus appropriations bill in late March with robust funding for Washington conservation priorities. Thanks to the leadership of Washington’s congressional delegation, Congress clearly rejected the Administration’s proposed budget which had slashed funding. Here’s a breakdown of how land trust priorities fared:
Land and Water Conservation Fund
Congress flatly rejected the Administration’s proposed 80% cut to LWCF, and instead increased funding by $25 million. Total funding came out to $436 million.
The LWCF is incredibly important to Washington, as a significant federal funding source for protecting working forests, state and local parks, and federal public lands. We were proud to see the bipartisan show of support for LWCF in the FY18 omnibus appropriations bill, with many Members pushing for both funding and reauthorization of the program. This is a testament to how much people across the country care about protecting the places they love.
However, while increased funding in the bill means that important conservation projects can move forward, Congress missed one big opportunity in this omnibus to reauthorize LWCF, which expires on September 30, 2018.
Thankfully, our Congressional delegation is pushing hard for LWCF reauthorization, and we’ll continue urging them to do so.
The omnibus appropriations bill provides $28 million through the Environmental Protection Agency for Puget Sound Cleanup. This comes after the administration originally proposed to slash the EPA budget to the lowest spending level in 40 years.
Breaking news — Farm Bill
On another note, today the House released their proposed 2018 Farm Bill. WALT and partners are still reading through the bill, but the Conservation Title is excellent, reflects our recommendations, and funds ACEP at $500 million. This is a huge win for farm and ranchland protection and bodes well for the final 2018 Farm Bill!
Thanks to all land trust members who continue to educate your members of congress on the importance of investing in conservation for our future.