WASHINGTON — “Year after year, Congress has doubled down on its investment in our cherished landscapes, rejecting administration budget proposals that would devastate the protections and places that both birds and people need,” said Sarah Greenberger, National Audubon Society’s senior vice president of conservation policy, upon release of President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget proposal today. “The president’s proposal again asks for short-sighted spending cuts and includes billions for a border wall that is bad for people and birds. Americans want a budget that matches our values. Birders, hunters, hikers, photographers and nature lovers of every political stripe support strong federal investment in protecting wildlife and the environment. We look forward to Congress delivering a budget that better matches these values.”
Federal investments in conservation and infrastructure help communities throughout the nation address 21st century challenges. Nature-based solutions specifically can protect and sustain communities feeling the effects of climate change while providing important habitat for birds and other wildlife.
“With severe drought continuing in the West and flooding or water quality problems in landscapes across the U.S., managing water needs to be a top federal priority,” said Julie Hill-Gabriel, National Audubon Society’s VP for water conservation. “Water is the essential resource, full stop. We need to get it right for people, birds and the ecosystems that sustain us.”
National Audubon Society has identified a number of federal water policy priorities, including:
At least $200 million in funding from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is necessary to continue advancing Everglades restoration, the world’s largest ecosystem restoration program. In the face of dramatic toxic algae blooms and red tide, restoration of America’s Everglades has never been more important. This is critical for birds like the Wood Stork.
The highly successful Delaware River Basin Restoration Program is working to support the protection, restoration and conservation of fish and wildlife habitats in the Delaware River Watershed, which provides drinking water for more than 15 million people. However, $10 million in funding through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for this project is needed to ensure that momentum continues on this important initiative.
Funding directed to water conservation efforts in the arid West are critical as water scarcity continues to threaten livelihoods and wildlife. Full funding is needed for programs like WaterSMART grants administered through the Bureau of Reclamation.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has made a significant impact cleaning up toxic hot spots, restoring fish and wildlife habitat, and combating invasive species. $330 million for this initiative is needed to continue the progress.
To contend with rising seas and stronger storms, prioritizing natural infrastructure – wetlands, dunes and barrier islands – as a solution will help communities and birds withstand and recover from extreme coastal events. These natural features buffer storm damage, absorb flood waters, and provide a front line of defense from storms.
“Climate change is coming directly at our coastal communities, and we can and must adapt in ways that protect both people and birds,” said Dr. Karen Hyun, Audubon’s vice president of coasts. “Fortunately, we have a good answer in natural infrastructure as the best way forward for people, for birds and other wildlife – and for our federal budget, too.”
Other federal departments and agencies targeted in President Trump’s budget proposal manage research and conservation programs that are essential to the survival of birds and other wildlife and remain Audubon priorities, for example:
Department of Agriculture: Key programs in the Farm Bill include: Environmental Quality Incentives Program, Regional Conservation Partnership Program, Conservation Stewardship Program, Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW), Watershed Act.
Bird at risk if Trump budget implemented: Tricolored Blackbird. This bird is found almost exclusively in California. In 2018, 109,000 vulnerable Tricolored Blackbirds, 61 percent of the estimated population, were saved by cooperation between California’s farmers, Audubon, the dairy industry and the US Department of Agriculture, as part of the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.
Department of Energy: Important programs include: Solar Energy Program (SunShot Initiative), Wind Energy Program.
Bird at risk if Trump budget implemented: Common Loon. The Common Loon is one of the 314 species of North American birds that could disappear from current ranges due to shifting and shrinking climatic suitability. The Department of Energy’s renewable energy programs help America transition to a clean energy future at the speed and scale that birds and people need.
Department of the Interior: Important programs include: the Land and Water Conservation Fund, North American Wetlands Conservation Act, Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, State and Tribal Wildlife Grants, US Geological Survey’s Ecosystems Science Programs, and WaterSMART.
Bird at risk if Trump budget implemented: Western Yellow-Billed Cuckoo. Listed as federally threatened in 2014, this bird depends on riparian habitat across the Colorado River Basin, but its population has fallen as its habitat has dried up and disappeared. Fewer than 2,000 breeding pairs are estimated to remain. The WaterSMART program is a critical water conservation program that sustains water resources in the West needed by birds and people
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Important programs include: South Florida Ecosystem Restoration.
Bird at risk if Trump budget implemented: Roseate Spoonbill. Audubon has been studying this bird’s response to changes in America’s Everglades for 75 years. The evidence is clear that restoring freshwater flows to areas like Florida Bay that are vulnerable to the impacts of sea level rise are critical for this species and other wading birds. Progress on projects like Kissimmee River Restoration has demonstrated that when wetlands are restored, the birds will return.
Environmental Protection Agency: Important programs include: Geographic Programs, National Estuary Program.
Bird at risk if Trump budget implemented: Snowy Plover. The National Estuary Program has restored and protected more than 2 million acres of estuaries in the United States since 2000. The Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary in Louisiana has received funds to monitor and protect nesting and foraging sites for threatened birds like the Snowy Plover, Wilson’s Plover, American Oystercatcher and Least Tern. The Geographic Programs managed by the EPA are especially beneficial to birds dependent on healthy aquatic ecosystems like the Puget Sound, the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay, San Francisco Bay, Long Island Sound and the Gulf of Mexico.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: Important programs include: Climate Research, Coastal Zone Management Grants, Regional Coastal Resilience Grants, National Estuarine Research Reserve System, Sanctuaries and Marine Protected Areas, National Sea Grant College Program, Fisheries Data Collection, Surveys, and Assessments, and Habitat Conservation and Restoration.
Importantly, NOAA develops science and data vital to policy- and decision-making in the face of a changing climate at the local, state, regional and national levels.
Bird at risk if Trump budget implemented: Northern Gannet and American Oystercatcher. Marine and coastal birds need safe spaces to breed and enough prey resources to survive. NOAA’s programs benefit birds and people because they work to improve our ability to adapt to climate change and increase coastal resilience. Resilience protects communities from harmful storms while providing habitat for birds. It also promotes sustainable fishing, which conserves fisheries for commercial and recreational anglers and birds and other marine wildlife.
Read about Audubon’s advocacy for policies that effect its 1.4 million members and people nationwide at https://www.audubon.org/conservation/advocacy.
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon’s state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon’s vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more how to help at www.Audubon.org and follow us on Twitter and Instagram at @audubonsociety.
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