According to a recent article published in Nature Conservancy Magazine, federal budget cutbacks have placed a number of major Nature Conservancy conservation projects in jeopardy. Acreage that was slated for protection – including working ranches and farms, forests, and wetlands – may now go unfunded and unprotected.
Why do local, state, and federal budgets impact the work of the Conservancy? While they do work with private conversation, they also work with public agencies to protect large land areas. The Nature Conservancy uses their money to quickly purchase lands in jeopardy while federal and state agencies take the necessary steps to fund the project. The conservancy then sells some of the property to the government agency and uses those proceeds to fund another land acquisition deal. One reason for this practice is that the Conservancy is unable to own and manage all of the land that it protects.
In February of this year the U.S. House of Representatives proposed budget cuts that targeting federal funding for conservation. They proposed stripping the fundings from the Wetlands Reserve and Conservation Stewardship programs and a 90 percent reduction to the Land and Water Conservation Fund which would have disrupted projects in Montana’s Crown of the Continent region, Oregon’s Hells Canyon and the Connecticut River. The House also proposed complete elimination of state and tribal wildlife grants. Fortunately the bill did not pass, but in April Congress made deep cuts to conservation by reducing the land and Water Conservation Fund by more than one-third. “The deficit is real and unsustainable, and something has to give,” said Bob Bendick, the Conservancy’s director of U.S. government relations. “Conservation should shoulder a proportional share,” he added, “but not be singled out for wildly disproportionate cuts.”
Glenn Prickett, head of external affairs for the Conservancy stated, “What we really worry about is throwing out decades’ worth of conservation investments that have had very strong bipartisan support all across the country and that are actually working in the interest of the economy and of working Americans.”
Ness, E. On Shaky Ground. Nature Conservancy Magazine, 1-3. Retrieved September 21, 2011, from http://www.nature.org