AFS has long supported increased funding for the U.S Geological Survey’s National and Regional Climate Adaptation Science Centers (CASCs) and Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units (CRUs). Both programs received a significant funding boost in the Fiscal Year 2020 budget, signed into law last Friday.
The CASCs will receive roughly $38.4 million, a more than $13 million increase from fiscal 2019. The CASC program, established by Congress in 2008 and expanded by the Obama administration in 2009, conducts research and helps natural resource managers understand these impacts of climate change to fish, wildlife, and ecosystems and strategically adapt to changing conditions. Part of the new funding will go toward establishing a Midwest Climate Adaptation Science Center, bringing the total to nine regional centers around the country. Recent budget requests have repeatedly proposed large cuts to the program, but Congress has maintained the funding level at $25.3 million during the last few years.
The CRUs will also see increased funding in the 2020 budget. The units have a long history of natural resource applied management science and education, working in partnership with state fish and wildlife and federal natural resource agencies and universities. The CRU Program has suffered from a record high number of vacant scientist positions due to a combination of retirements and base funding shortfalls, affecting the CRU’s ability to meet cooperator needs. The 2020 budget will fund the CRUs at $24M, a $5.6M increase over the 2019 $18.4M allocation. The funding increase will allow the CRUs to fill their 38 vacancies.
CRU’s provide critical science support to state and federal management agencies to help sustain the fish, wildlife and outdoor recreation needs of the public. The CRUs identify conservation measures needed to preclude the need to list endangered or threatened species under the Endangered Species Act, recover listed species, prevent or control invasive species and wildlife disease outbreaks, and inform management decisions and proactive conservation actions for state species of greatest conservation need.