Monday, June 25, 2018

How a conservation fund helped sink Trump's budget-trimming efforts

The Senate last week narrowly rejected $15 billion in spending cuts sought by conservatives that would have trimmed budgets across the federal government. But it was slashes to a single program — a conservation fund that does not directly cost taxpayers a dime — that helped do the bill in. On Wednesday, two Senate Republicans — Richard Burr of North Carolina and Susan Collins of Maine — joined every Democrat to reject a measure that attempted to chip away at the compromise $1.3 trillion spending package brokered by the two parties in March. Burr voted against the bill because it would have pulled back funding promised to a program called the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The LWCF is a half-century-old program that provides money to federal, state and local governments for the acquisition of land and waters to bolster parks, forests, wildlife refuges and other public areas...Burr's vote against the rescissions package is an early sign of a political tussle that may lie ahead. The LWCF is set to expire at the end of September, and Burr along with a bipartisan group of western senators — including Republicans Steve Daines (Mont.) and Cory Gardner (Colo.) and Democrats Maria Cantwell (Wash.) and Jon Tester (Mont.) — held a news conference in front of the Capitol on Wednesday urging Congress to make the program permanent. The LWCF received a three-year extension in 2015 after lapsing that year...MORE

Where is Zinke on this issue?

When the LWCF was last reauthorized in 2015, only one House Republican voted with Democrats to revive the lapsed program. But that dissenting Republican was Ryan Zinke, who at the time represented Montana in Congress. As a congressman, Zinke also backed permanently authorizing the fund. Last year, he stepped down to serve as President Trump's interior secretary. “It is time for Republicans to return to our conservationist roots,” Zinke wrote in a 2015 letter to the editor published in The Washington Post in defense of the LWCF.

And where is Trump?

But when the White House put forward its fiscal 2019 budget proposal this year, the Trump administration did not promise to support the program's reauthorization — either permanently nor temporarily. In fact, the Trump administration unsuccessfully proposed slashing funding for the program by 95 percent.

I'm with Trump on this one. How about you?


Floyd Rathbun said...

Absolutely with Trump.

Saying that the LWCF has not cost taxpayers is cute, but the fact is the cost to our communities when private property, including land, becomes federally controlled property is huge.

As one small example, Environmentalists (some kind of Conservancy) bought the Rosaschi Ranch in Lyon County Nevada and soon sold it to the US government. Now under US Forest Service regulation, USFS became the managers of what had been a productive ranch. Millions of dollars changed hands when the Enviro-Conservancy sold their interest to the government, so at least that group of conservationist (environmentalist) associates prospered.

Prior to the sale the ranch irrigated substantial acreage that provided feed for cattle, deer, sage grouse, and song birds. Private ownership and private management provided direct benefits to both the local economy and to wildlife. After the USFS got their authoritative hands on the land and water rights the maintenance of ditches, fields, and hayland crops stopped --- sage grouse disappeared as did the mule deer and song birds. The property no longer contributes to the economy of the community through sale of agricultural products.

A few fishermen now have unrestricted access to that section of the East Walker River. East Walker River became fish habitat after the irrigation reservoir at Bridgeport CA was constructed. Prior to the reservoir the river dried up every few years. With the establishment of fishing opportunities the recreationists weren't satisfied with just going fishing; apparently the federally controlled banks of the river did not look as good as the privately controlled sections of river. So being good socialists they demanded that taxpayers turn the private lands into government lands suitable for taxpayer subsidized recreation.

Once again the government agencies have put into effect the destruction of land management based on capitalism and science which seems to be the underlying goal of programs such as this LWCF.

Motives for this story are also tied into a conservationist day dream promoted by Senator Harry Reid called "Save Walker Lake". Walker Lake is where the Walker River ends. To his minions that meant ending irrigated agriculture upstream from the lake. I guess that Senator Reid would have agreed with the politicians in this story.

LWCF and other programs like this should end very soon.

Frank DuBois said...

Thanks Floyd.

Saying it costs the taxpayers nothing is "cute" in another way also. Previously that income went to the Treasury. By diverting that money, either other programs are cut, other taxes are raised to replace that income or the rate of deficit spending goes up. All of those entail a cost.