Outdoors notebook: Funding cuts to environmental programs proposed
March 19, 2017 12:00 AM
J. Scott Applewhite/Associated Press
Copies of President Donald Trump's first budget are displayed at the Government Printing Office in Washington, Thursday.
By John Hayes / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Conservationists are not happy about the federal government’s 2018 budget proposal.
It’s still being negotiated with both sides of a reluctant Congress. As written the plan calls for cuts of 12 percent ($1.5 billion) at the Department of the Interior, 21 percent ($4.7 billion) at the Department of Agriculture and 31 percent ($2.6 billion) at the Environmental Protection Agency.
The blueprint strips all funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the Chesapeake Bay Program. State and local governments would bear greater responsibility for carrying out federal programs.
The cuts cannot touch federal Pittman-Robertson and Dingell-Johnson sport restoration funds, which are collected from hunters and anglers at the state level and reapportioned back to state wildlife agencies.
In a budget-cutting ripple effect, many nonprofit programs would lose some or all funding under the proposed plan.
“With the magnitude of these cutbacks … the conservation legacy left to us by Theodore Roosevelt and others would be undone very quickly, and the effects would be felt on public and private lands and waters in every corner of the nation,” said Whit Fosburgh, president and CEO of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, in a statement.
Thirty years after President Ronald Reagan spearheaded the bay’s cleanup, Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William C. Baker said the water quality is slowly improving.
“Reducing funding for the successful Chesapeake Bay clean-up, begun by Ronald Reagan, seems inconsistent with [President Trump’s] remarks about clean water,” he said, in a statement.
Pennsylvania’s wildlife agencies are struggling, but Wayne Laroche, Game Commission director of Wildlife Management, said the changes won’t bite into his agency.
“State Wildlife Grants are appropriated and could potentially be impacted,” he said. “However, we have no word on whether or not this funding is in any jeopardy.
Fish and Boat executive director John Arway suggested it has become increasingly difficult to carry out all of his agency’s responsibilities.
"There comes a time when we discover we can't afford to provide everything to everyone. If we do, nothing seems to get done correctly,” he said.
Arway suggested that stewardship of America’s wild places is ultimately in the hands of people who understand that nature can no longer take care of itself.
“I am confident that the President and Congress will develop a budget that reflects the priorities of all Americans, including those of us who value our environment and fish and wildlife resources,” he said. “However, it is incumbent upon us as sportsmen to shout out our message so that it is factored into budget negotiations."
Fly fishing summarized
Pittsburgh angler and author Stephen Plut will present a free, inspirational talk about the joys of fly fishing, 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at Mt. Lebanon Public Library. His independently published book, “Fly Fishing Simplified,” will be available for sale. 16 Castle Shannon Blvd., Mt. Lebanon, 15228. 412-531-1912, mtlebanonlibrary.org.
To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to
email@example.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner.