Joshua Winchell 703 358-2279
The President's $2.2 billion FY 2009 budget request provides significant increases for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for bird conservation and habitat work on private lands across the nation, while sustaining increases in the National Wildlife Refuge System budget and supporting other key Service priorities. The budget request includes $1.3 billion in discretionary funds and $946.9 million in permanent appropriations largely provided to States for fish and wildlife restoration and conservation.
"This budget request recognizes and supports the vital role that the Fish and Wildlife Service plays in bird conservation in this hemisphere, while providing increased funding for other conservation programs that enable us to work in partnership with landowners, local governments and others. Perhaps most important, the request provides crucial funding to offset our increased fixed costs, ensuring that we can support the work of our employees who manage and protect the nation's fish and wildlife heritage," said Service Director H. Dale Hall.
The $1.3 billion FY 2009 discretionary budget request represents a reduction of $64.6 million compared to the 2008 enacted level, with most reductions resulting from lowered proposed spending in construction and land acquisition. The request includes $16.4 million to cover increases in fixed expenses, including pay and rental space costs. This increase will cover nearly 83 percent of the projected increase in the Service's fixed costs; the remainder will be absorbed through cost savings.
The 2008 enacted budget included $434.1 million for refuges, a $35.9 million increase over the 2007 level, a record-high funding level. The 2009 budget sustains this level, which will significantly increase habitat conservation and other activities to help restore the health of wildlife found on refuges, including birds. This funding level is $133 million more than the refuge budget was in 2001, a 44% increase. At this funding level in 2009, the refuge system will improve more than 200,000 acres for the benefit of migratory birds.
The budget request supports the Service's role as a leader and partner in fish and wildlife conservation, delivering professional resource stewardship grounded in science and a commitment to public service. The request also emphasizes the Service priorities, including managing the National Wildlife Refuge System - the world's premiere network of lands and waters dedicated to wildlife conservation, conservation and management of migratory birds, and ensuring the future of conservation by connecting people with nature. The budget request will help the Service manage outdoor resources that touch the human spirit, contribute to human health and well-being and promote a healthy economy.
Highlights of the President's 2009 budget request include:
- Birds Forever - In support of the President's October 20, 2007, announcement to do more for migratory bird conservation, the Department's Birds Forever initiative includes an increase of $8.0 million to support targeted planning and broad-scale activities to address threats to bird species under the Birds Forever initiative. This increase includes funding for monitoring and assessment of birds, implementing and developing focal species plans, and funding for Migratory Bird Joint Ventures. In 2009, the Service will apply the concepts of adaptive management and strategic habitat conservation, and build on the Service's ongoing work to improve an additional 200,000 acres of national wildlife refuge system lands; create additional urban bird treaties; expand migratory bird conservation though the Migratory Bird Joint Ventures; work with Mexico to enhance bird habitats in their country; improve the status of five bird species over the next five years; and compile a 2009 State of the Birds report.
The budget request also includes a proposal for the first price increase since 1991 of the Federal Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamp, also known as the Duck Stamp, to $25 - a $10 increase. If approved by Congress, the added funding will allow for acquisition of an estimated 6,800 additional acres of migratory bird habitat and secure easements for 10,000 additional acres of wetlands per year across the nation.
- Ocean and Coastal Frontiers - The budget includes a $400,000 increase in the refuge program to participate in the Palmyra Atoll Research Consortium for coral reef protection and research efforts to guide future management of the Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, and $500,000 for the launch of a marine debris campaign at Midway Island National Wildlife Refuge for a total increase of $900,000. Marine debris threatens many of the 267 species of birds and wildlife that scientists estimate are impacted world-wide by this problem, including coral reefs and albatross that ingest the debris and feed it to their young. To address this problem, FWS will partner with the Fish and Wildlife Foundation to assess the sources of the marine debris, clean up the trash, and educate the public. Guided by the President's Oceans Action Plan and Executive Order 13366, the Ocean and Coastal Frontiers Initiative acknowledges the importance of coastal and marine environments not only for fish and wildlife, but also for the economic health of the nation. The Ocean and Coastal Frontiers Initiative recognizes the significant role and expertise the Service provides for conservation and management of coastal and marine habitats, working cooperatively with States and other natural resource managers, as well as the development and application of sound science.
- Safe Borderlands - The budget includes an increase of $1.0 million for law enforcement efforts on five national wildlife refuges along the southwest border as part of the Department of Interior's Safe Borderlands Initiative. Once experiencing only infrequent visitation, these refuges, and other public lands along the border, have been impacted by illegal activity. This Department-wide Safe Borderlands Initiative is necessary to help safeguard the refuge resources, visiting public, and refuge staff.
- Healthy Lands Initiative - An increase of $492,000 in funding for this initiative - bringing the total funding request to $2.0 million - will lead to significant conservation achievements in the Green River Basin, Wyoming. This increase, provided to the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program to assist private landowners seeking to restore habitat on their lands, will meet a critical need. The Service will support restoration of 970 acres of upland and 6 miles of riparian habitats within the basin.
- Cooperative Conservation - The 2009 budget request for Service cooperative conservation programs includes $195.9 million for Service grant programs, an increase of $1.9 million. Of this, the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund includes a net request of $75.5 million, an increase of $1.7 million compared to the enacted 2008 level. State and Tribal Wildlife Grants are funded at $73.8 million, equal to the 2008 enacted level. The request also includes $86.2 million for technical assistance programs, including $13.2 million for the Coastal program, $48.0 million for the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program, $4.9 million for the Fish Passage Program and $5.2 million for the National Fish Habitat Action Plan.
The request for the Endangered Species Program is $146.8 million. This reflects a decrease of $3.7 million from the 2008 enacted level to eliminate unrequested funding increases and cost savings through reduced administrative costs. The Fisheries and Aquatic Resource Conservation request is $116.6 million, a decrease of $9.9 million from the 2008 enacted level, which also reflects the elimination of unrequested earmarks and costs savings, and decreases for fish passage improvements of $5.9 million.
The Service's land acquisition account has been decreasing over the years to reflect our efforts to focus on our current management responsibilities. The request for land acquisition is $10.2 million, a $24.4 million reduction compared to the 2008 enacted level which includes reducing administrative and related costs to a level more in line with the current size of the program.
The construction request totals $12.2 million, a decrease of $21.0 million compared to the 2008 enacted level. The National Wildlife Refuge Fund budget is $10.8 million, $3.2 million below the 2008 enacted level, and the budget proposes a total of $4.3 million for the Multinational Species Conservation Fund, a reduction of $3.6 million compared to the 2008 enacted level.
The FY 2009 President's Budget Request will be made available online at http://budget.fws.gov.
The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.