STATEMENT OF JAMIE RAPPAPORT CLARK, DIRECTOR, U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE BEFORE THE HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE ON INTERIOR AND RELATED AGENCIES
March 2, 2000
Good morning, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for the opportunity to present the President's Fiscal Year 2001 budget request for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Our FY 2001 Budget supports common goals of the Congress and Administration by working with partners at the state and local level to enhance the livability of our outdoor spaces; finding common-sense solutions to habitat and species protection; and taking care of what we have by addressing critical operations, maintenance and safety needs. The request for appropriated funds totals $1.127 billion, an increase of $250.3 million from 2000.
This budget proposes critically needed resources for operational and program priorities. Our operations account is funded at $761.9 million, an increase of $47.4 million from 2000. These resources will support the first year of a sustained effort to strengthen the law enforcement program; fulfill the highest national priorities of the refuge system as identified and ranked by refuge managers; and increase cooperative, on-the-ground operations to protect habitat and ultimately keep more species off the threatened or endangered lists. The Service backs up this request by better defining what we do; building upon the successful Refuge Operations Needs System by identifying clear project priorities for invasive species control, migratory bird conservation, and other important activities.
This budget fulfills our mission to work with others, to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. More than ever, we will support tried and true, on-the-ground conservation by the Service and, increasingly, our state, local, tribal and private partners. One key indicator of success to date is the rapidly growing number of requests by these partners, who want to play a part and have a say in conservation. This budget will allow the Service to better support our cooperative efforts; for Habitat Conservation Plans that support diverse communities of species while allowing development to proceed; Safe Harbor Agreements that assure landowners their conservation efforts will not be turned back by future regulations; and, much-needed assistance that enables the Service to put our cooperative plans into action by protecting green spaces for future generations to enjoy.
We request total funding of $306,600,000 for the Administration's Lands Legacy initiative in FY 2001. President Clinton's Lands Legacy initiative, now in its second year, provides a major component of our assistance to states and communities. This initiative highlights the Administration's commitment to make new tools available to work with states, tribes, local governments, and private partners to protect great places, and to conserve and restore open space for recreation and wildlife. Service components of the Lands Legacy Initiative include the Land Acquisition account, the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund, and the new State Non-Game Wildlife Grants program. The latter, an important component of the Service's assistance to states, will provide funds for non-game wildlife management planning, wildlife inventories, and related activities.
The budget provides operational support to protect pristine habitat and provide memorable visitor experiences on the nation's wildlife refuges in preparation for the centennial of the national wildlife refuge system in 2003. Our landscape is broad, spanning 521 national wildlife refuges and 38 Wetland Management Districts with waterfowl production areas across more than 93 million acres. Americans continue to discover these open spaces in record numbers. All in all, nearly 80 million outdoor enthusiasts spend more than $100 billion each year on hunting, fishing, wildlife watching and photography, and related activities, much of it on or near national wildlife refuges. The Service takes seriously our trust responsibility to preserve and promote these cultural, educational, recreational, and economic benefits.
Finally, the Budget supports the headquarters realignment of Service functions to more effectively manage our programs with states, promote greater visibility and leadership for the National Wildlife Refuge System, and consolidate our habitat protection programs. This realignment does not affect the budget structure or field operations.
I would now like to turn to the specific programs and discuss the specifics for each.
The Service requests a total of $1,750,535,000 for FY 2001, consisting of $1,126,601,000 in current appropriations and $623,934,000 in permanent appropriations. The FY 2001 budget for current appropriations is $250,258,000 more than enacted by Congress for FY 2000. The 2001 funding request for the operating account totals $761,938,000, a net increase of $47,395,000 more than enacted for FY 2000. The Land Acquisition account, a component of the President's Lands Legacy Initiative, is funded at $111,632,000. The Construction account is funded at $44,231,000 to continue the Department's five-year plan for safe visits.
Improving Livability through Thriving Species and Communities: Ecological Services-The Service requests a total of $199,192,000, a net increase of $9,453,000 over the FY 2000 enacted level, for Ecological Services programs:
Endangered Species -- The Service requests a total of $115,320,000, a net increase of $7,038,000 over the FY 2000 enacted level. The enhanced program funding will support operations that enhance implementation of the Endangered Species Act, one of the nation's most significant environmental laws.
Habitat Conservation - The Service requests a total of $73,558,000 for Habitat Conservation programs, a net increase of $2,106,000 above the FY 2000 enacted level.
The request includes a $500,000 program increase for habitat projects that improve habitat for fish and other aquatic species by reducing sedimentation from upland erosion through riparian and in-stream habitat improvements, improving water quality, and eliminating passage barriers for fish and other aquatic species.
Partners projects will restore wetlands, uplands, streams and other waterways. Landowners will gain improved ecological health and productivity of their lands, and habitats will improve for migratory birds, native and inter-jurisdictional fish, and other threatened, endangered, and declining species. These efforts will also enhance the livability and prosperity of communities by resolving problems that imperil watersheds and ecosystems, supporting locally-led initiatives, and allowing communities and landowners to participate in achieving our mutual conservation goals.
Fulfilling the Promise: National Wildlife Refuge System -- The Service requests $281,966,000 for the National Wildlife Refuge operations and maintenance, a net increase of $19,911,000 over the FY 2000 enacted level, to address high-priority conservation and maintenance needs; and promote recreational and educational opportunities for nearby communities and visitors to refuges. The request also includes $5,300,000 for additional mandatory federal law enforcement retirement contributions that the Service must provide to eligible refuge personnel.
What began in 1903 when President Theodore Roosevelt established the first federal wildlife refuge, Pelican Island Reservation on Florida's East Coast, has grown to 521 refuges and 38 wetland management districts encompassing more than 93 million acres. As we prepare to celebrate the centennial of the National Wildlife Refuge System in 2003, we also realize that much work lies ahead. For example, Pelican Island is being threatened by encroaching development, shoreline erosion and invasion of alien plants. The budget requests funds to acquire lands that protect habitat, construct a visitor facility to share Pelican Island's legacy with the public, and address other refuge needs across the country.
The approaching centennial coincides with our Fulfilling the Promises vision, a long-term strategic plan the Refuge System. We will implement the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 by sustaining the biological integrity, diversity and environmental health of refuge lands and improving the livability in U.S. communities through better visitor services; and implement the Volunteer and Community Partnership Enhancement Act of 1998 through community partnerships that foster assistance to and increase the expertise of private citizens and nonprofit organizations. Specific focus areas include:
Migratory Bird Management The Service requests $22,839,000 for migratory bird management, a net increase of $1,041,000 over the FY 2000 enacted level.
The Service will address declines and overabundance of migratory birds through a more focused, science-based strategy that matches resources and at-risk populations through clearly defined priorities. The Service will improve program delivery by promoting adaptive management, standardizing surveys, and integrating conservation programs for game and non-game birds that potentially benefit from the same actions. Finally, the Service will continue successful cooperation with states, international organizations, and the private sector.
The Service and more than a thousand communities, governments, nonprofit organizations, ordinary citizens, federal agencies in 46 states, and academia have participated in these Joint Ventures (JVs) to date. There are now 11 JVs, which allow us to pool our capabilities, expertise, and resources for long-term conservation of migratory bird and other fish and wildlife habitat.
Strengthening Law Enforcement The Service requests $52,029,000, a net increase of $12,624,000 over the FY 2000 enacted level, to strengthen the Law Enforcement program. Enhancing law enforcement capability is one of the highest Service priorities for FY 2001. Today's law enforcement program is at a critical crossroads-- facing increasingly complex and potentially devastating threats from illegal trade, unlawful commercial exploitation, habitat destruction, and environmental contaminants-- with a declining and under-equipped force. This request will ensure the safety of our officers and the success of many Service activities such as reintroducing species, implementing Habitat Conservation Plans, reducing contaminants and other industrial hazards, and controlling illegal wildlife trade.
Fisheries -- The Service requests $82,650,000, -$2,621,000 below the FY 2000 enacted level (primarily due to the discontinuation of several Congressional adds) to continue supporting activities that restore the nation's waterways, native aquatic species, and habitats. Our waterways are an economic lifeline, provide recreation, and have a significant impact on the livability of communities.
General Operations -- The Service requests $123,262,000, a net increase of $6,987,000 above the FY 2000 enacted level, for Central Office Administration, Regional Office Administration, Servicewide Administrative Support, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, National Conservation Training Center, and International Affairs programs. Within this amount, the Service requests an additional $1,137,000 to cover mandatory expenses for the General Service Administration's rental rate adjustments and the Department's Working Capital Fund. These uncontrollable cost increases are partially offset by $615,000 in cost reductions associated with the Department of Labor's workers compensation and unemployment compensation payments. Other program increases are:
Construction -- The Service requests $44,231,000 for Construction, a net reduction of $9,296,825 below the FY 2000 enacted level for our most urgent construction needs.
As part of the Administration's Lands Legacy initiative, the Service requests $111,632,000 for Land Acquisition. This request, an increase of $59,869,000 above the FY 2000 enacted level, would acquire approximately 123,543 acres. Major focus areas for 2001 include Southern California, the Lower Mississippi Delta, the Florida Everglades, the New Jersey-New York watershed, key partnerships along the Lewis and Clark corridor, and the Northern Forest of New England. A full list of requested projects is included in the Land Acquisition section.
The request includes $17,147,000 for acquisition management, land exchanges, inholding acquisitions, and emergency acquisitions, an increase of $6,147,000 above the FY 2000 enacted level.
Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund
The Service requests $65,000,000 for the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, an increase of $42,000,000 above the FY 2000 enacted level.
As part of the Administration's Lands Legacy initiative, the additional $42,000,000 will provide new tools for states and communities to conserve open space for wildlife habitat and public recreation. This additional grant assistance will provide $7,711,000 to develop new Habitat Conservation Plans; $14,082,000 to implement approved candidate conservation agreements and Safe Harbor agreements for protecting candidate, proposed, and listed species; $11,735,000 for land acquisition to help implement approved species recovery plans; and $6,125,000 for HCP land acquisition grants. The Service will use $1,625,000 to provide expert technical assistance to the state and local governments, and $722,000 to administer the new grant assistance programs.
North American Wetlands Conservation Fund
The Service requests $30,000,000 for the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund, twice the FY 2000 enacted level. This Fund, included in the Lands Legacy initiative for FY 2001, protects and restores wetland ecosystems that serve as habitat and resting areas for migratory game and non-game birds. The Fund supports non-regulatory private-public investments in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. To date, nearly 1,000 partners have worked together on more than 700 projects in 47 states, 10 Canadian provinces, and 18 Mexican states to protect, restore or enhance 13 million acres of wetlands and associated uplands in the U.S. and Canada and vital habitat on 23 million acres within Mexico's large biosphere reserves. This request will generate at least $30,000,000 in matching funds and resources and enhance 235,000 acres of wetland and upland habitat.
Multinational Species Conservation Fund
The Service requests $3,000,000 for the Multinational Species Conservation Fund, an additional $600,000 above the FY 2000 enacted level, to provide technical and cost-sharing grant assistance to African and Asian nations for conserving elephants, rhinoceros and tigers, and their habitats. African elephants, Asian elephants, rhinoceros, and tigers are endangered species protected from take and trade by CITES and U.S. laws. This Fund provides successful, on-the-ground support to range countries involved in elephants, rhinoceros, and tiger conservation; and, generates local matching resources from these countries. Of the increase, $300,000 is requested for Asian elephant conservation projects and $300,000 for rhinoceros and tiger conservation projects.
National Wildlife Refuge Fund
The Service requests $10,000,000, a decrease of $739,000 below the FY 2000 enacted level, for payments to counties in which Service lands are located. This reduction will be partially offset by an additional $220,000 in expected receipts. Combined with revenues generated from the sale of products, other privileges, and leases for public accommodations or facilities, the FY 2001 estimate for payments to counties is $15,938,000.
The Service's estimates indicate that refuge visitors contribute more than $400 million to local economies each year. These benefits will continue to grow with projected increases in visitation.
Wildlife Conservation and Appreciation Fund
The Service requests $800,000 for the Wildlife Conservation and Appreciation Fund in FY 2001, the same level as enacted in FY 2000. The Fund provides matching grants to states for studies, education, recreation, and other activities related to the conservation of fish and wildlife species and their habitats.
Commercial Salmon Fishery Capacity Reduction
The Service proposes to discontinue this account in FY 2001. Instead, funding to implement the 1999 Pacific Salmon Treaty is included in the Administration's Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund, located in the budget for the Department of Commerce. The Fund will provide $100,000,000 in assistance to Pacific Northwest state, local and tribal governments to restore coastal salmon runs.
State Non-Game Wildlife Grants Fund
The Service requests $100,000,000 for a new program to provide grants to states, tribes and U.S. territories for non-game wildlife management planning, wildlife inventories, monitoring and research, habitat restoration, education, and recreation. Under the proposed distribution formula, states will receive 90 and one third of 1 percent of the total funds, allocated according to size and population of the state. Tribes will be eligible to receive three percent of the total funds. Puerto Rico will receive one percent. Guam, the Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, and the District of Columbia will each receive one-third of one percent of the total funds. The Service will deduct up to four percent from available funds for administration before awarding grants.
In FY 2001, receipts into the Service's permanent appropriations are projected to total $623,034,000, a combined -$5,157,000 decrease below the FY 2000 deposits, to the following accounts: National Wildlife Refuge Fund, North American Wetlands Conservation Fund, Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, Recreational Fee Demonstration Program, Migratory Bird Conservation Account, Sport Fish Restoration Fund, Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration, Miscellaneous Permanent Appropriations, and Contributed Funds. The major changes are: