With conservation programs facing the possibility of steep cuts in the federal budget, The Nature Conservancy has launched a multi-pronged effort to reach Congress with its recommendations for a more measured and effective way forward.
First, in a letter to leaders of both parties in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, President and CEO of The Nature Conservancy Mark Tercek suggests three principles to guide the difficult budget decisions.
“The Conservancy has been engaged for 60 years in working cooperatively with a diversity of interests to conserve natural systems for the benefit of people, plants and animals. Our experience on the ground in every state over the course of our history has demonstrated to us the importance of federal programs in accomplishing tangible and lasting conservation results,” says Tercek in the letter. “We believe our recommendations will help manage our country’s exceptional natural resources in a prudent, cost-effective way that fulfills the obligation of each generation of Americans to pass on to the next land and water that is clean, healthy, productive, beautiful and accessible to all for recreation in the outdoors.”
The three principles Tercek proposes are:
• Cuts to conservation and environmental programs should not be disproportional. While cuts to conservation and environment programs may be unavoidable in the deficit reduction process, these programs are of immense value to the American people and should not be singled out for cuts more severe than and disproportional to those in other government sectors.
• Cooperative conservation programs are particularly important. Grants, investments in land, and payments to states, local governments and the private sector to support national conservation, recreation, restoration and resource management objectives through cooperative action are particularly cost-effective, and, as such, funding should be retained to the maximum extent possible to take advantage of these efficiencies. The Farm Bill Conservation Title Programs, fish and wildlife programs like the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, programs in NOAA like the Open Rivers Program and the EPA programs for restoration of Chesapeake Bay and the Great Lakes are good examples of this successful cooperative approach.
• There is a need to evaluate the efficiency of government programs. Following the budget decisions, there should be a systematic interagency and inter-governmental process to re-design, better coordinate and integrate the conservation and environmental programs of the Federal government.
In addition, dozens of Trustees of The Nature Conservancy are in Washington, D.C. today to meet with their representatives in Congress to highlight the value of specific conservation programs in each state and advocate that conservation programs should not bear a disproportionate share of budget cuts. More than 100 meetings are planned – marking the largest advocacy fly-in program in The Nature Conservancy’s 60-year history.
Trustees of The Nature Conservancy will focus on this critical budget issue and other important natural resource issues, including the conservation programs in the Farm Bill, efforts to restore the Gulf of Mexico and the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Trustees are respected leaders from their communities in every state and many countries where the Conservancy works.
“Our Trustees are leaders in business, science and community efforts, and they are lending their strong voices to represent the views of The Nature Conservancy’s one million members today. We are indebted to them for their commitment,” concluded Tercek.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.