Outdoor Life : Paulsen Touts National Parks Failing To Mention Massive Proposed Cuts

With a 71% score, Erik Paulsen was the only Minnesota Republican to be awarded the Friends of the National Parks Award … and featured that in his weekly “video chat”.

Representative Paulsen is not alone in promoting our National Parks as 51 U.S. senators and 171 representatives signed a letter to President Barack Obama urging the Obama administration to revitalize National Park Service plans in time for the agency’s 100th anniversary in 2016. Due to sequestration and years of budget slashing for the NPS, some lawmakers and park advocates are trying to secure a bipartisan effort between the president and Congress to prevent the parks from having to take a greater financial hit in the coming years.

While Representative Paulsen is playing to the video camera, the House Appropriations wants to cut National Park Service FY2014 funding 9% below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level.

And it isn’t just National Parks that are on the chopping block as there are 20 Programs and Agencies in FY 2014 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill that get zero dollars.
The FY 2014 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill cuts $5.5 billion below the fiscal year 2013 enacted level (-19%) — a cut of $4 billion below the current level caused by sequestration cuts.

Outdoor Life explores some of these planned cuts in funds for many programs (highlights below) :

Shortsighted cuts like the ones proposed by the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee cut the heart out of wildlife management practices that have been proven not only effective, but economically viable. Most of these programs have a return of investment much higher than any other government program. Why in the world would we cut programs that generate revenue—not only in terms of taxes but in terms of economic prosperity for rural communities?
Here’s what the budget looks like:
– Eliminates all funding for the State Wildlife Grants program. The funding for this program is appropriated by Congress out of the General Fund. It also shows why our forefathers worked so hard to take wildlife management decisions away from politicians and place them with professional wildlife managers.
– Cuts the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Budget by 27 percent. That’s a total of 34 percent cut in the last three years. This affects hunters and anglers greatly because our dollars are being siphoned away from the conservation of endangered species and wildlife habitat that helps ensure future abundance of game herds.
– Eliminates funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund. LWCF has been seeing its funding diverted since its inception in 1963. With LWCF set to expire this year, we expect several attempts to make this popular and sustainable program permanent, along with a full source of funding. We’re scratching our heads as to why the House subcommittee thinks it’s a good idea to cut funding to a program that puts hunters and anglers out on the ground.
– Eliminates all funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Act. Got ducks? Thanks to NAWCA you do. Cutting this program cuts more than just the tax dollars used to protect wildlife habitat, it takes food out of the mouths of ducks and other wildlife.
– Eliminates all funding for Landscape Conservation Cooperatives. These programs are grassroots. They involve locals working with locals and agencies to best conserve working landscapes as well as important wildlife habitat.
– Eliminates funding for wildlife refuge expansions and new wildlife refuges. Access to hunting and fishing grounds has been cited as one of the biggest factors in declining hunter numbers. This budget helps ensure a future with fewer hunters and anglers because there will be fewer places to hunt and fish.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for a balanced budget. But cutting programs that are guaranteed to put money in the bank for small businesses, outdoor manufacturers and keeps our American heritage of public hunting and fishing especially on public lands is simply the House subcommittee cutting off their nose to spite their face.

The Friends of the National Parks Award may look nice on Representative Paulsen’s wall, but his funding vote matters more.

Also a Friends of the National Parks Award recipient is Betty McCollum (D-MN-04) {along with Tim Walz (D-MN-01) and Keith Ellison (D-MN-05)} … based on her reaction to the proposed cuts, we know how she will vote :
I came to this subcommittee to work in partnership with my Republican and Democratic colleagues to keep our air and water clean, protect our nation’s natural treasures, and ensure this Congress honors our trust responsibilities to Indian Country.
The Interior – Environment appropriations bill before us today is not a reflection of bipartisan cooperation and compromise. This is a harsh, harmful, and destructive bill that is the product of a Republican budget that seems all too eager to walk away from our families, communities, and the environment.
The destructive House budget and meager allocation was embraced and voted for solely by Republicans. No one forced this harsh allocation on you. You made the choice and voted for it.

Over the past months, this subcommittee held 18 hearings and briefings. We heard from more than 150 witnesses. We all spent hours and hours here together listening to Americans tell us how this subcommittee and the Congress can make a positive impact, a real difference in people’s lives.

Add some examples,
State officials told us how important federal funds are to maintain clean and safe drinking water. Yet this Republican bill eviscerates the clean water fund by over 80%.
This Republican bill is not only harsh, harmful, and destructive to the American public at large, but it picks regional winners and losers throughout the nation. In my region, it cuts the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative by 80% which is successfully restoring the largest fresh water basin on Earth. That is not being fiscally conservative, it is being wholly irresponsible.
Mr. Chairman, isn’t investing in ensuring healthy forests and preventing forest fires more fiscally responsible than spending endless “emergency funds” that must be offset by finding outside funds?

Representative McCollum did not need to send-out a self-promoting video … instead, she address her colleagues, concluding her remarks :
I will oppose this bill today and in full committee. I urge my Democratic and Republican colleagues to do the same.

We all love this country and we all have an obligation to put the needs of the American people first – before our political parties, before an arbitrary budget allocation.

Let us fulfill our responsibility, reject this bill and start over. We can and must do better.

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