What this Week’s Budget Deal Means for the Outdoors

The federal budget has been in the news a lot recently, and for good reason.

When it comes to our public lands and waters, our trails, and the programs that support their use and enjoyment, the annual budget is among the most important pieces of legislation that Congress is entrusted to pass every year. So what does the 2017 budget deal reached this week mean for the places and issues that AMC and our members care about?

  1. The Land and Water Conservation Fund was cut more than 10% from last year’s appropriation, though the bigger story is that LWCF is only receiving 44% of the $900 million per year that Congress authorized the program to receive. But, $400 million for conservation projects goes a long way when you match it with the required state, local and non-governmental sources.
  2. The Highlands Conservation Act fared better, receiving full funding at $10 million. The program is funded through the Land and Water Conservation Fund to assist Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania in protecting lands that primarily protect drinking water supplies.
  3. The Environmental Protection Agency was spared from dramatic cuts. The agency is funded at just about $8 billion, a very modest reduction from last year’s level.
  4. The National Trail System, Wild & Scenic River Program, and many other important partnership efforts supported by the National Park Service received a modest boost in funding thanks in part to $11 million in additional funds.

So what’s the uproar all about?!?

Threats to funding these essential functions of government have not diminished as Congress now turns its attention to the 2018 budget.

Though 1,300 acres was recently protected at Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Pennsylvania, 3,000 additional acres remain in private ownership pending additional LWCF dollars

The President proposed a budget for 2018 that would slash funding to agencies and programs that AMC cares deeply about, including a:

  • 31% cut from the Environmental Protection Agency
  • 30% cut from the Land and Water Conservation Fund
  • 12% cut to the Department of Interior, including the National Park Service
  • and much more… 

There’s a lot of work ahead, and we’re counting on you!

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Mark Zakutansky

As AMC's Director of Conservation Policy Engagement, Mark works to advance a number of important priority federal and state conservation issues, including land conservation funding, river and watershed protection, as well as access to public lands. Mark is an avid outdoor enthusiast, primarily as a whitewater paddler and telemark skier.