Omnibus Appropriations Bill for FY2017 Enacted

Omnibus Appropriations Bill for FY2017 Enacted

On May 5, President Trump signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2017 providing agency funding levels for the remainder of the fiscal year. The final spending levels maintain or improve budgets for natural resource related agencies. In addition, a number of legislative riders that were being considered were not included in the final bill. The bill is generally considered a win for conservation interests that were anticipating large cuts included in President Trump’s proposed budget and recommended funding for FY2017.

President Donald Trump Signs a Bill

Overall, the Department of the Interior is funded at $12.3 billion which is $42 million more than FY2016 spending levels. Land acquisition through the Land and Water Conservation Fund for all agencies received $400 million. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was allocated $1.52 billion, an $11 million increase from last year. This includes $484 million for the National Wildlife Refuge System, $240 million for ecological services, $38 million for the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund (a $3 million increase), $62.6 million for state and tribal wildlife grants, and $65 million for habitat conservation through the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and coastal restoration programs.

The Bureau of Land Management is funded at $1.25 billion, an increase of $15.7 million from the previous year. The bill includes $250.7 million for management of land resources and $115.8 million for fisheries and wildlife and with an additional $21.6 million for threatened and endangered species. Within the resource management budget is $68.9 million for greater sage-grouse conservation, an increase of $8.9 million from the last fiscal year. This is intended for on-the-ground conservation efforts, particularly through collaborative conservation. Recreation resources management also received a boost of $2.3 million to $53.5 million with an additional $18.3 million for wilderness management. Energy and mineral management programs increased by $6.2 million to $172.8 million.

The National Park Service received a boost of nearly $81 million to a total of $2.93 billion. Within this funding is $329 million for resource stewardship within parks. There was a $23 million increase for the U.S. Geological Survey that ended up with a $1.09 billion budget. This includes $159.7 million for ecosystem surveys, investigations, and research – within this line budget is $17.4 million for Cooperative Research Units. While climate change research saw a dip of $3.7 million from FY2016, it is still funded at $53.6 million. Research for Water Resources, including water quality and quantity, received a $4 million boost to $214.8 million.

Within the Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Forest Service is funded at $5.6 billion, though much of this is targeted at fire prevention and suppression. For the Department of the Interior land management agencies combined with the Forest Service, wildland firefighting and prevention is boosted to $4.2 billion, which fully funds the 10-year average for wildland fire suppression costs. Within this spending is $407 million for emergency funding and $570 million for hazardous fuel management. Forest and rangeland research within the Forest Service is funded at $288.5 million. The National Forest System overall is allocated $1.5 billion with fish and wildlife habitat management at $140.5 million, land management planning, assessment, and monitoring receiving $183 million, and recreation, heritage, and wilderness is funded at $265 million.

Conservation programs within the Natural Resources Conservation Service increased by $13.5 million to $864 million. Within this is $759 million for conservation technical assistance including a $10.6 million increase for written conservation plans and conservation program delivery. There is also a $150 million investment in watershed flood and prevention operation, funding that has been absent since fiscal year 2010, and maintained spending of $12 million for watershed rehabilitation. However, programs with mandatory spending levels did see decreases due to ongoing sequestration rules tied to the farm bill. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program is dropped to $181 million and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program is cut by $28 million.

Detailed budget tables as well as committee report language for the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies division and the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies division of the omnibus bill are available online.

Photo Credit
NASA HQ Photo, Flickr
May 15, 2017