President Bush continued to build on the legacy of cooperative conservation established in his first term by supporting programs in the 2006 budget that promote partnerships with the American people to conserve our nation's land and water, wildlife and other natural resources.
The Interior, Agriculture, and Commerce departments and the Environmental Protection Agency all fund key partnership programs that will empower states, tribes, local communities, conservation groups, private landowners and others to undertake conservation projects. These projects range from wetlands restoration efforts occurring along Ball Bay on Upper Klamath Lake; to the removal of invasive plants in Palm Beach, Fla.; to the development and implementation of self-regulating strategies to mitigate the trend of declining marine populations in Kenai Fjords, Alaska.
The funding supports the president's executive order signed last year on "Facilitation of Cooperative Conservation." The order directs the secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, and Defense and the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to promote conservation partnerships and to empower local participation in programs and projects that protect and conserve natural resources and the environment.
"From his first day in office, the president has made it clear that he believes the best thing we can do for conservation is to tap into the energy, ingenuity and love for the land of the American people," said Interior Secretary Gale A. Norton. "This budget reaffirms the president's commitment to cooperative conservation."
"The heart of voluntary conservation programs is cooperative conservation," said Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns. "Partnerships at the local, state, and federal levels with landowners, tribes, government agencies and nongovernmental organizations are critical in this effort."
The president's budget for the Agriculture Department for fiscal year 2006 supports the direction provided in the executive order. With the budget, the department will continue to implement cooperative conservation in all relevant programs.
The fiscal year 2006 budget includes increases in several programs that support cooperative conservation, including a 4.1 percent increase for the Conservation Reserve Program, the federal government's largest conservation program on private lands. The $2.02 billion for the Conservation Reserve Program supports USDA's goal of partnering with landowners to protect land, water and wildlife by planting grass and trees on retired agricultural land.
In addition to the Conservation Reserve Program key commitments in Agriculture's conservation budget include:
- $657 million for the Conservation Technical Assistance Program that provides technical capability, including direct conservation planning and implementation assistance, to help people plan and apply conservation on the land. The president's budget reflects an increase of $37 million for assisting owners and operators of animal feeding operations and an increase of $11 million for the Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative specifically targeted at invasive species.
- $274 million for the Conservation Security Program that provides financial and technical assistance to promote the conservation and improvement of soil, water, air, energy, plant and animal life on tribal and private working lands.
- $1 billion for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program that helps farmers and ranchers improve soil, air and water quality and related resources on private working lands.
- $321 million for the Wetlands Reserve Program that helps landowners restore, enhance and protect wetlands. The program works to maximize wildlife habitat and wetland functions and values.
- $60 million for the Ground and Surface Water Conservation program. This $9 million increase provides for cost-share and incentive payments to carry out water conservation activities, including irrigation improvements, conversion to less water intensive crops, and dryland farming.
- $60 million for the Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program to protect and restore essential plant and animal habitat using cost-share agreements with private land owners.
In FY 2006, the USDA Forest Service will emphasize collaborative action and partnerships by leveraging more than $500 million in partnership and collaborative work to restore watersheds, reduce hazardous fuels, and conduct joint research, construct trails, educate our youth and support economies in rural communities.
The Forest Service's State and Private Forestry program will provide a total of more than $253 million, including:
- $37 million, an increase of $5 million from FY 2005, for the Forest Stewardship Program to provide technical and financial assistance to states to help nonfederal landowners manage and conserve forest resources.
- $80 million, an increase of $23 million from FY 2005, for the Forest Legacy Program to protect environmentally sensitive forest areas across all ownerships threatened by conversion to nonforest uses.
- $27 million in Urban and Community Forestry to protect America's natural resources by providing technical and financial assistance to local governments with a nationwide emphasis on maintaining, restoring and improving the livability of communities and urban areas through management of natural resources.
The Forest Service's Wildland Fire Management program will provide $49 million in forest health, state fire assistance and volunteer fire assistance programs. In addition, the Forest Service's FY 2006 budget will assist in cooperative conservation through:
- $281 million for the Hazardous Fuels program to maintain and restore forest and rangeland health from catastrophic wildfire.
- $68 million for Research and Development's Forest Inventory and Analysis program (an increase of $13 million from FY 2005) to provide the information needed to assess America's forests through its annual forest census.
- $41 million for the Land Acquisition program to protect critical resource areas and to provide increased public recreation opportunities.
- $5 million to the Forest Products Laboratory (Madison, Wis.) to implement the biomass component of the Healthy Forest Restoration Act through grants to nonprofit and local communities.
- $3 million to the National Forest Foundation for use on conservation-related project grants and agreements that incorporate matching funds from partners.
- $2 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for use on conservation-related project grants and agreements that incorporate matching funds from partners.
- $22 million in Challenge Cost-Share agreements from various budget line items, which will generate approximately $24 million in partner contributions, for a total contribution of $44 million.
- $108 million in forest management trust funds.
- $33 million in Resource Advisory Committees for local community collaboration with federal land managers in recommending projects to be conducted on federal lands or that will benefit resources on federal lands.
- The president's budget for the Interior Department includes an increase of $75.1 million, or 24.6 percent, for a suite of cooperative conservation grant and partnership programs administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service. These programs emphasize local input and cooperative decision making to achieve land management and resource goals. As a package, they are specifically designed to address conservation goals on both federal and private lands.
The 2006 budget includes:
- $40 million, an 84 percent increase, for the popular Landowner Incentive program, which provides cost-share grants to states to help landowners protect and manage habitat for threatened, endangered and at-risk species on their property.
- $10 million, a 45 percent increase, for the Private Stewardship Grant program that provides cost-share grants to individuals and groups engaged in conservation projects to benefit threatened, endangered and at-risk species.
- $44.8 million, a 140 percent increase, for challenge cost share grants to allow Interior agencies to work together with adjacent communities, landowners and citizens to achieve common conservation goals on federal lands.
- $74 million, an increase of 7 percent, for the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program that provides cost-share grants to assist states and tribes to undertake wildlife conservation projects in partnership with local communities, private landowners and other partners.
- $49.9 million, a 33 percent increase, for the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund that provides grant support for the highly successful, multi-nation North American Waterfowl Management Plan to conserve, restore and enhance wetlands and other waterfowl habitat throughout the continent.
- $52.2 million, an increase of 10 percent, for the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program that assists landowners in voluntary habitat restoration efforts on their property.
- $14.9 million, an increase of 27 percent, for the Coastal Program that supports partnership efforts to conserve and restore wetlands in coastal areas, including elimination of invasive species.
- $12.9 million, a 26 percent increase, for Migratory Bird Joint Ventures to create six new joint ventures to support the goals of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan and other conservation partnerships, such as Partners in Flight, the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan and the North American Waterbird Conservation Plan.
- $80 million for the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund that provides grants to states for activities that conserve threatened and endangered species.
The president's budget for the Commerce Department includes funding for a variety of cooperative conservation programs through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
"The budget reflects the administration's support for NOAA's strategic goals, supports improved performance in NOAA and maintains essential environmental services for the nation," said Retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator.
The budget includes:
- $61.2 million to address regional ecosystem research priorities in coordination with state and regional organizations through NOAA's Sea Grants program.
- $19.6 million for actions, coordinated with regional, state and tribal entities, aimed at protecting Pacific salmon stocks.
- $1.5 million for the NOAA Coral Reef Program to work with states and territories to address threats to the nation's coral reefs.
- $7.4 million in programs that support the Western Governor's Association's call for a National Integrated Drought Information System, including $4 million for a Water Resources Initiative to support development of a nationwide water resources forecasting capability, which will provide America with economically valuable water and soil conditions. This increase supports a national water- quality monitoring and prediction system.
- $3.8 million to accelerate nationwide implementation of ozone Air Quality forecasting capability from FY 2009 to FY 2008 and to deliver an initial particulate matter forecasting capability by FY 2011.
The president's budget includes increased funding for key EPA programs such as watershed protection, Brownfields redevelopment, and the Great Lakes Legacy Program that are built upon effective community involvement and partnerships.
The president's budget is requesting $50 million, an increase of nearly $28 million, for the Great Lakes Legacy Program, which is a large-scale collaboration among the federal government, the Great Lakes states, local communities, tribes and others.
The president's budget also calls for $210 million, a $46.9 million increase, in the Brownfields Program that will accelerate the cleanup and renewal of contaminated lands.
"Through programs such as these, EPA continues to build on the four cornerstones of new technologies, market incentives, collaborative networks and results to achieve greater gains in environmental protection," said EPA Acting Administrator Steve Johnson. "We are able to foster healthy communities and leverage billions of additional dollars to improve our nation's air, land and water."