The President’s Fiscal Year 2013 discretionary budget request supports $1.5 billion in programs for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, an increase of $72.0 million over the 2012 enacted level. In addition, the budget includes a $200 million cancellation of prior year unobligated balances from the Coastal Impact Assistance Program, for a net 2013 request of $1.3 billion for the agency. The 2013 request focuses funding on the agency’s highest conservation priorities, including the America’s Great Outdoors initiative and cooperative species recovery. The budget request also contains program and administrative cost-cutting measures.
“The Service’s budget request makes some tough choices, generating program reductions and management savings, while supporting our effort to transform the agency to meet the conservation challenges of the 21st century,” said Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “By building science capacity and focusing on strategic, partnership-driven landscape conservation, this budget will enable us to be more effective and efficient with the funding we receive.”
The Service’s budget request contains costs in a number of areas by identifying administrative efficiencies, program reductions, and other savings, while proposing select increases. The request also includes $994.7 billion in permanent appropriations, most of which will be provided directly to the States for fish and wildlife restoration and conservation.
America’s Great Outdoors
The budget request includes funding for projects in support of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative, such as the Flint Hills Legacy Conservation Area in Kansas and the Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge in Florida, that will conserve and protect wildlife and working lands on a landscape level while creating jobs through travel, tourism, and outdoor recreation activities. Working through public-private partnerships and locally-supported conservation strategies, the initiative seeks to protect and restore the nation’s most important ecosystems and natural areas and to reconnect Americans, especially young adults, to America's natural heritage.
The Administration’s 2013 budget requests $450.0 million in funding across the government for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and includes a total of $106.9 million within FWS– an increase of $52.3 million from the FY 2012 enacted level – for land acquisitions that the Service has identified as having the greatest conservation benefit.
In addition, the budget seeks increases for several grant programs administered by the Service that support AGO goals and leverage Federal funds with significant partner contributions. These grant programs include the Cooperative Endangered Species Fund (a $12.3 million increase over FY 2012 enacted level of $47.7 million) and the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund (a $3.9 million increase over the FY 2012 enacted level of $35.5 million). The Service’s budget also provides funding for natural resource jobs for America’s youth, including Youth Conservation Corps positions on wildlife refuges and elsewhere.
New Energy Frontier
In support of the President’s Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future, which calls for safe and responsible development of our nation’s domestic energy resources, the Service’s budget includes an additional $4.0 million to support energy development including funding for enhanced studies of renewable energy projects, technical assistance in project design, and Endangered Species Act consultation.
This new initiative represents a strategic approach to implementing endangered species recovery actions on National Wildlife Refuges and in their surrounding ecosystems. Nearly 300 species protected by the Endangered Species Act are located in or around units of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The refuges and their surrounding ecosystems provide important habitat for these listed species. This initiative builds on the Service’s strategic habitat conservation approach, and will encourage a cross-programmatic, landscape-oriented approach to improve conservation for selected species.
In addition, the budget contains the following targeted funding increases:
The budget request includes $179.7 million to administer the Endangered Species Act, a critical safety net for America’s native fish, wildlife, and plants. This is an increase of $3.7 million compared with the 2012 enacted level, including a program increase of $1.5 million for listing activities.
National Wildlife Refuge System
Funding for the operation and maintenance of the national wildlife refuge system is requested at $494.8 million. This represents an increase of $8.8 million above the 2012 enacted level for the system of public lands and waters set aside to conserve America's fish, wildlife and plants. With the addition of the Dakota Grassland Conservation Area in North and South
Dakota, and the Flint Hills Legacy Conservation Area in Kansas in 2011, the Refuge System now includes nearly 150 million acres, 556 wildlife refuges and other units of the Refuge System, including 38 wetland management districts. The request includes an increase of $3.6 million for Challenge Cost Share partnerships and $1.0 million for refuge law enforcement activities. Challenge Cost funds a variety of small-scale on-refuge projects with partners.
Cooperative Landscape Conservation and Adaptive Science
The request for the Cooperative Landscape Conservation and Adaptive Science activity totals $33.1 million, a program increase of $856,000 above the 2012 enacted level. This level of funding will support 14 operational Landscape Conservation Cooperatives. This funding will support better science and promote shared knowledge among conservation partners, improving the management decisions of all.
The budget request also includes the following program reductions and cost savings:
National Fish Hatchery Operations – Mitigation
The budget request identifies $43.2 million for total national fish hatchery operations, a program decrease of $3.2 million from the 2012 enacted level. The Service produces fish at many hatcheries to mitigate the adverse effects of Federal water development projects, providing fish to States to the benefit of local communities. The Service is working to recover costs from Federal water projects in order to focus Service base funding on native fish recovery and restoration. The Service will continue to work with the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the Tennessee Valley Authority to establish reimbursable agreements to satisfy their full responsibilities. Without these agreements, mitigation activities will be reduced.
Aquatic Habitat and Species Conservation
The budget request includes a total of $70.4 million for the Fisheries Aquatic Habitat and Species Conservation program, a net program decrease of $1.5 million from the 2012 enacted level. To facilitate the Service role and responsibility in promoting ecosystem health, fisheries, and aquatic resource conservation, the budget includes programmatic increases of $1.5 million for fish passage improvements, $1.6 million to support continued cooperative work in the Klamath Basin, $800,000 for Collaborative Recovery, and $2.9 million for Asian carp activities in the Great Lakes.
Coastal Impact Assistance Program
The Service will continue to manage the Coastal Impact Assistance Program, which was transferred in FY 2012 from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement (formerly the Minerals Management Service). The FY 2013 request proposes cancelling $200 million in current balances within the Coastal Impact Assistance Program, funding that has not been awarded to the States.
To learn more about the President’s FY 2013 budget request, visit http://www.doi.gov/budget/.