CRomnibus: Conservation Funding

By Julia King

Shorebirds Shorebirds at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Massachusetts
Image Credit: USFWS

The $1 trillion spending bill approved by Congress last week will keep the government running until the end of the Fiscal Year (FY), October 2015. The “Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015” has been nicknamed the “CRomnibus” because it combines an omnibus appropriations bill for most agencies with a continuing resolution (CR) for the Department of Homeland Security. TWS provided testimony to Congress earlier this year on appropriations for programs within the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture.

The Department of the Interior was appropriated $10.7 billion in the CRomnibus, slightly higher than the $10.5 billion the agency received in FY2014. Programs within the Department of the Interior fared differently, with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Wildlife Refuge System being appropriated increased funding from FY2014, with programs like the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants staying at level.

The CRomnibus appropriates $474.2 million for the National Wildlife Refuge System. This is $2 million less than the President’s and TWS’s request of $476.4 million; however, it is a $2 million increase from FY 2014. USGS was appropriated $1.045 billion – less than TWS’s requested $1.1 billion – but still received an increase above FY 2014 levels. The ecosystems program within USGS, which contains programmatic resources for fisheries, wildlife, environments, invasive species and the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units received a $4.2 million increase to $157.0 million total.

The State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program was appropriated the same amount of funding as FY 2014. SWG was appropriated $58.695 million, which is equal to TWS’s request and above the President’s request of $50 million. TWS works with Teaming with Wildlife to ensure adequate funding for the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) was appropriated $871.3 million, a $49 million increase above FY2014 levels. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program were appropriated fewer funds for FY 2015. The 2014 Farm Bill authorizes $1.6 billion in mandatory funding for EQIP, but the CRomnibus only appropriates $1.3 billion. The Conservation Stewardship Fund was appropriated funding for the conservation of 7.7 million acres in the CRomnibus, a 2.3 million acre decrease from the 2014 Farm Bill. The Farm Bill authorizes mandatory funding for programs, but Congress can choose to appropriate fewer funds for specific programs each year.

In addition to the funding appropriations, some policy riders – legislation unrelated to the overall bill – have been attached to the CRomnibus. Read the TWS article, CRomnibus: Conservation Riders to learn more.

Sources: Environment & Energy Daily (December 10, 2014), TRCP Blog (December 10, 2014), and U.S. Government Printing Office (December 9, 2014)