Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, issued the following statement:
“Our nation’s wildlife is increasingly threatened by habitat loss, climate change and invasive species in what the United Nations has now confirmed as our planet’s sixth mass extinction. We haven’t a moment to spare. Congress must act to protect and restore wildlife by funding programs to preserve species and habitat.
“The Appropriations Committee has taken an important step in providing a significant boost in desperately-needed funding for the Endangered Species Act and the wildlife that depends upon it for survival. Now it’s time for Congress to fully fund the Act to ensure that every species in need of protection gets it and to put every imperiled animal and plant species on the path to recovery.
“We also applaud the Appropriations Committee for rejecting the Trump administration’s request for additional funding for its ill-considered proposal to reorganize the Department of the Interior. This reorganization effort distracts from the Interior Department’s vital mission, wastes scarce fiscal and human resources, disrupts the essential and lawful functions of Interior bureaus, taxes staff capacity and undermines employee morale.
“The elimination of the annual ‘sage-grouse rider’ is another step forward for the Committee’s bill. Since 2014, Congress, acting at the behest of the fossil fuel industry, has prevented the Fish and Wildlife Service from using all available tools to protect the grouse and the Sagebrush Sea, a landscape that is vital to hundreds of sensitive species, local communities and sustainable regional economies.”
Background: Endangered Species Act
- The Endangered Species Act is our nation’s most successful law to protect endangered and threatened wildlife. Over 95% of species listed under the Act survive, and hundreds more are on the path to recovery.
- Earlier this year, a coalition of more than 200 organizations sent a letter to Congress requesting a significant infusion of funds into the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Ecological Services program to begin to address the extinction crisis.
Background: Department of the Interior reorganization
- The bill does not include money for the Trump administration’s proposal to reorganize the Department of the Interior, which has been criticized as unnecessary and damaging. The administration requested $28 million for the reorganization in fiscal 2020, but the bill does not include any funding.
Background: Sage-Grouse Rider
- Faced with potential ESA listing in 2015, the Obama administration initiated a collaborative comprehensive planning process in 2011 to implement new conservation measures for greater sage-grouse on 65 million acres of public lands. As a result of this unprecedented effort the Fish and Wildlife Service determined in 2015 that the grouse no longer warranted listing.
- This year the Trump administration revised this balanced conservation strategy, eliminating important habitat reserves for sage-grouse and other wildlife, reducing protective management buffers around sage-grouse breeding and nesting areas, and discarding important guidance to managers to direct oil and gas drilling away from essential habitat areas.
- Defenders of Wildlife has analyzed how these new plans compare with the original 2015 plans, including how the new plan amendments benefit the oil and gas industry and public lands ranching.