Interior Appropriations Update

The House Appropriations Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee released a Fiscal Year 2019 funding bill last week that would restore funding to the U.S. Geological Survey’s Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units (CRUs) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s State and Tribal Wildlife Grants. President Trump’s FY19 budget proposal eliminated funding for the CRUs and cut State and Tribal Wildlife grant funding in half.

The draft appropriations bill would fund the CRUs at $19.29 million with an additional $1.92 million for filling critical vacancies at research institutions. The 40 CRUs across 38 states are embedded in major research universities and bridge the gap between science and natural resource decisions. CRU scientists produce credible, applied science that meets the direct needs of cooperators and empowers the front lines of fish and wildlife conservation. Insufficient funding for the program has hindered the CRUs ability to fill 36 staff vacancies. In March, AFS wrote a letter of support for the CRU program to congressional appropriators seeking $23.9 million for the coming fiscal year which would provide funding to fill all the vacancies.

State and Tribal Wildlife grants would be funded at $63.6 million in the House bill, level with Fiscal Year 2018 funding. AFS has been meeting with Senate Appropriations staff to express support for the grant program and request robust funding for the program. AFS worked with our conservation partners including the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, the National Wildlife Federation, and the Wildlife Society to secure Senate support for the program on a “Dear Colleague letter.”

State and Tribal Wildlife Grants provide funding for states to implement voluntary conservation of imperiled species identified in State Wildlife Action plans. Annual appropriations provide less than 5% of the funding that would be needed to fully implement every state’s plan. Dedicated funding for the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act would secure 75% of the funds to address the 12,000 at-risk species to prevent them from becoming endangered.

The Senate Interior appropriations bill has not yet been finalized. Please consider contacting your U.S. Senators to express support for the CRUs and State and Tribal Wildlife Grants and don’t forget to call your representatives in the House to ask them to co-sponsor the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act if you haven’t already done so!