The administration’s budget invests in programs and works that would promote the conservation of public lands

$6.8 trillion FY24 proposal would increase funding for public land management by nearly $7 billion

WASHINGTON – The administration’s proposed budget of $6.8 billion for fiscal year 2024 increases funding for key resource management agencies, as well as programs that would address pressing conservation issues affecting fish and wildlife and lands and public waters.

The Department of the Interior would receive a 12 percent increase, or an additional $2 billion, over the levels enacted for FY 23. The Department of Agriculture’s discretionary budget would receive an increase of 14.4 percent, or an additional $4.7 billion, over the levels enacted for FY 23. levels enacted for FY23.

In particular, the proposal would invest in the expansion of biodiversity by increasing key programs and funding for the National Wildlife Refuge System, the implementation of the Endangered Species Law, and the conservation of migratory birds and the fishing. The Fish and Wildlife Service budget request is for $2.08 billion, or an increase of 17.7 percent. This figure includes an increase of $83 million for the National Wildlife Refuge System, as well as a 30 percent increase, which translates to an additional $19 million, for the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, that facilitates voluntary conservation activities on private lands.

The proposed budget would provide a $141 million boost to the Bureau of Land Management, and funding for the Wildlife Habitat and Aquatic Resources Management program would receive a 13.5 percent increase. At USDA, the Forest Service would receive $2.22 billion, or $252 million above enacted levels for FY 23. This includes a 56 percent increase in hazardous fuel reduction funding that would allow the agency to mitigate the wildfire risk across 4.2 million acres in high-priority, high-risk areas, a significant investment to prioritize the USFS 10-year wildfire crisis strategy.

While the proposal is largely positive, it includes just a $30 million request for funds to clean up abandoned hard rock mine sites, less than half the $65 million request last year. Cost estimates to clean up the abandoned mines run to $54 billion. The bipartisan infrastructure package approved in late 2021 authorized $3 billion for this important work, and Backcountry Hunters & Anglers encourages Congress to appropriate at least $287 million to begin reclamation of abandoned hard rock mines, which account for the largest source of pollution in the United States.

BHA President and CEO Land Tawney praised the proposed increases in conservation-related work, calling the proposed budget a “starting point” in the likely heated negotiations between lawmakers that will follow in the divided Congress.

“The administration’s proposal addresses key needs identified by resource managers and scientists and championed by hunters, fishermen, and citizens from all walks of life,” Tawney said. “We appreciate the hard work of President Biden and his Cabinet leaders to improve America’s public lands and waters, the fish and wildlife that depend on them, and the opportunities for challenge, solitude, and adventure they provide.

“However, much remains to be done,” Tawney continued. “We look forward to working with the administration and Congress to ensure we meet our shared obligations to stewardship of our nation’s natural resources.”

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