TWS Executive Director Testifies Before Congress

By Colleen Hartel

Ken Williams Ken Williams, Executive Director, at the Interior Appropriations Hearing.
Image Credit: Library of Congress

Byron “Ken” Williams, Executive Director of TWS, testified in front of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies on behalf of TWS members.

The Subcommittee held a Public and Outside Witness Hearing on March 18th, inviting the public to submit testimony on programs over which the subcommittee has oversight, including many conservation programs. TWS submitted written testimony in addition to testifying in-person in order uphold TWS’s mission of supporting the professional community of wildlife biologists, managers, and educators by advocating for appropriate funding levels for Fiscal Year 2016. Recommendations for funding were based off of previous years’ funding levels, the President’s budget request, and TWS’s assessment of program needs.

TWS expressed support for various conservation programs implemented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) during the public witness day. The written testimony advocates further for these programs and others administered by the U.S. Forest Service and expresses support for the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act, which is cosponsored by all members of the Subcommittee.

As part of the Cooperative Alliance for Refuge Enhancement, TWS testified in support of the National Wildlife Refuge System’s requested operations and management budget of $508.2 million. Significant decreases in funding have resulted in notable losses of refuge staff in recent years. TWS also advocated for funding of the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants at the levels recommended in the President’s budget for FWS.

The USGS Cooperative Research Units support education of graduate students and continuing education for natural resource professionals, while also providing technical assistance on natural resource issues. TWS advocated for increased funding to meet the President’s budget request of $20 million to fulfill vacancies and restore organizational capacity.

During the hearing, TWS also testified in support of funding for the BLM’s horse and burro management program but recommended removal of the language limiting the use of humane euthanasia for unwanted or unadoptable horses in order to more effectively return feral horse populations to appropriate management levels.

Webcasts of the morning and afternoon sessions of the testimony are publically available.

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

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