Sportsmen to Congress: ‘Our Jobs Count, Too’

US Capitol

Photo courtesy NPS.gov.

When “jobs, jobs, jobs” seems to be the refrain coming from the halls of Congress, you’d think these elected officials would embrace the economic importance of our nation’s conservation programs. Unfortunately, the House of Representatives proved last week that it is not ready to give these programs the respect they deserve.

Funding levels and policy riders approved by the House Appropriations Committee in its fiscal year 2013 Interior appropriations bill would slash operating budgets for agencies like the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Numerous programs critically important to the sportsmen’s community, such as the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the Land and Water Conservation Fund, face deep cuts and damaging impacts from policy riders in the bill. State and tribal wildlife grants, which support cooperative projects with states and private landowners to keep species from being listed under the Endangered Species Act, would be cut by 50 percent.

If the proposed cuts – including a $50 million reduction for the National Wildlife Refuge System – advance, look for major layoffs of biologists and law enforcement personnel, closures of visitor centers and reductions in such activities as managed hunts.

Ironically, the committee’s action comes on the heels of a report by the Outdoor Industry Association that documents the substantial economic contributions of hunting, fishing and other forms of outdoor recreation. The report shows that outdoor recreation in the United States is big business, to the tune of $646 billion in direct consumer spending, $39.9 billion in federal tax revenue and $39.7 billion in state/local tax revenue each year.

Our recreation economy creates 6.1 million American jobs that cannot be exported overseas. Unfortunately, these facts were lost on members of the House Appropriations Committee, as it cut the very programs upon which the recreation economy depends.

While sportsmen are willing to help shoulder our share of the nation’s economic burdens, the fact remains that conservation programs did not create the budget deficit, and slashing conservation funding cannot solve the problem. As a percentage of federal spending, conservation has decreased from about 2.5 percent in the 1970s to about 1.25 percent today.

Congress could eliminate every conservation program and barely make a dent in the deficit. Moreover, as all of us who work on conservation projects in our communities know, every dollar of federal funds is leveraged several times over by state and private funds as well as volunteer labor.

The House can and must do better. All sportsmen need to make their voices heard: Conservation is a fundamental part of what makes America great, and it is central to our economy. Congress ignores this at its own peril.

Sign up to receive action alerts on these important issues and consider supporting our work on behalf of your sporting heritage.

0saves
If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.
Whit Fosburgh
Whit Fosburgh joined TRCP as President and CEO in June 2010. Prior to working at the TRCP, Fosburgh spent 15 years at Trout Unlimited, playing a critical role in that organization’s evolution into a conservation powerhouse. Fosburgh grew up hunting and fishing in upstate New York and was a member of team USA in the 1997 World Fly Fishing Championships. He brings a wealth of experience centered on conservation policy, fundraising and program development as well as a passion for the outdoors.

Related posts:

  1. Conservation Finds Renewed Importance in Dire Economic Straits
About Whit Fosburgh

Whit Fosburgh joined TRCP as President and CEO in June 2010. Prior to working at the TRCP, Fosburgh spent 15 years at Trout Unlimited, playing a critical role in that organization’s evolution into a conservation powerhouse. Fosburgh grew up hunting and fishing in upstate New York and was a member of team USA in the 1997 World Fly Fishing Championships. He brings a wealth of experience centered on conservation policy, fundraising and program development as well as a passion for the outdoors.

3 comments on “Sportsmen to Congress: ‘Our Jobs Count, Too’

  1. Jan E. Dizard on said:

    Is there any way that sportsmen and women in the districts of the House Republicans can be alerted to the fact that their representative is voting to cripple the agencies and programs that are essential to sustaining habitat and game vital to sustaining both hunting and fishing? So many of the reactionary Republicans portray themselves as pro-sportsmen/women but they are anything but. We have to begin naming names and calling them out or we will be sunk.

  2. Tom Sadler on said:

    Right on Whit! Congress needs to recognize the important contribution the outdoor recreation industry makes to our economy. They need to invest more not less in conservation programs. My 2 cents and more at >http://middleriverdispatch.com/outdoor-recreation-means-business/

  3. Ken Thacker on said:

    Public lands and the laws that protect both them and many private lands for recreation activities such as hunting and fishing did not create the budget deficit. Relative to Defense and entitlement programs, total expenditures on public land management, clean water and air, and species preservation laws are a drop in the bucket. In addition, these programs benefit the middle and lower incomes classes disproportionately and trying to balance the budget on cutting them is futile. Balancing the budget should follow the Simpson Bowles Commission recommendations of spreading the pain of the cuts and include tax increases on those who can most afford them.

Speak Your Mind

*

190,414 Spam Comments Blocked so far by Spam Free Wordpress

HTML tags are not allowed.