February 2, 2004
President George W. Bush is requesting more than $1.3 billion -- $22.6 million more than last year for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's 2005 budget. The request represents the administrations continuing commitment to protect Americas natural resources and support conservation partnerships in communities across the country.
Among the key features of this budget package are an increase for partnership and cost-share grant programs under the Presidents Cooperative Conservation Initiative and $2 million for a new Science Excellence Initiative. Budget increases for hatcheries and migratory bird programs help to round out a package that will allow the Service to conserve, with its partners, the nature of America.
"President Bush's budget for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service illustrates his continued strong commitment to protect and conserve our nations fish and wildlife and its habitat," said Interior Secretary Gale Norton. "In particular, the budget significantly boosts funding to support partnerships with states, tribes, local communities, private landowners and others to protect and enhance our fisheries, recover species, and increase opportunities for Americans to enjoy our public lands."
New funding in the 2005 budget to support the Cooperative Conservation Initiative includes:
"The most effective conservation projects are the ones that are conceived and carried out at the local level, by the people who live and work on the land," Norton said. "Our goal is to empower the American people to become citizen-conservationists, working together to achieve what the government alone cannot achieve."
The budget request of $2 million for the Science Excellence Initiative is one of Director Steve Williams priorities. Science excellence is the foundation for all of the Services work. Through this initiative, the Service will be taking many steps to increase our ability to acquire and apply science in the conservation of the nations fish and wildlife resources. The budget for this initiative is divided up into two components. One million dollars will be used to shape new approaches to the science of natural resource conservation. The remainder will be used to bolster the resources of our partners to help the Service better shape the direction of conservation efforts and to meet the changing needs of science-based conservation.
The ever-escalating complexity of natural resource conservation demands scientific information that is rigorous, timely and relevant. This initiative supports the underpinnings of good science, promotes good decision making, and supports continuous learning and professional development, as well as stronger partnerships with other Federal or state natural resource agencies, non-profit organizations, and private industry, Williams said.
Other notable parts of the Services 2005 budget:
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System which encompasses more than 542 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resource offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Aid program that distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.
NOTE: You can view our releases or subscribe to receive them -- via e-mail -- at the Service's Southeast Regional home page at http://southeast.fws.gov. Our national home page is at: http://news.fws.gov/newsreleases/.
Atlanta, GA 30345