Government Spending Bill Signed Into Law

By Zachary Sheldon

A bull elk at Big Spring Creek, Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve in Colorado. The Park is located in the Southern Rockies Landscape Conservation Cooperative region. Image Credit: NPS

An appropriations process that included debate over the Confederate flag, the resignation of the Speaker of the House, and two short-term continuing resolutions came to a close on December 18 when Congress approved a $1.15 trillion spending bill, funding the government for the remainder of fiscal year 2016. Earlier this year, The Wildlife Society provided testimony to appropriators on programs housed in the Department of the Interior and Agriculture.

Congress passed a two-year budget deal earlier this year to set spending parameters for the next two years. The deal increased discretionary spending by $80 billion over the next two years. The Wildlife Society sent out an Action Alert, calling for members to contact their representatives in Congress and ask that this increase in spending go towards conservation and highlighted three programs of particular importance to wildlife professionals: State & Tribal Wildlife Grants Program, U.S. Geological Survey’s Cooperative Research Units, and Landscape Conservation Cooperatives. Over 400 members responded to the call, sending over 1,200 messages to the halls of Congress expressing the voice of wildlife professionals and the need to support wildlife management and conservation.

The State & Tribal Wildlife Grants Program received $60,571,000, approximately $10 million lower than the President’s Budget Request but $2 million more than FY2015 funding levels. The U.S. Geological Survey’s Cooperative Research Units were funded at $17,371,000, an amount $2 million less than the President’s Request and equal to the FY2015 budget. The Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs) program was appropriated $12,988,000, an amount $5 million less than the President’s request and $1 million less than last year.

The bill also reauthorized the Land and Water Conservation Fund for three years and appropriated $450 million to the fund, which had expired earlier this year. TWS is a member of the LWCF Coalition and has supported the reauthorization of the fund.

Zachary Sheldon is a policy intern at The Wildlife Society as part of the Government Affairs & Partnership program.

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