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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fish and Wildlife Service: FY2012 Appropriations and Policy

M. Lynne Corn
Specialist in Natural Resources Policy

The annual Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriation funds agencies and programs in three federal departments, as well as numerous related agencies and bureaus. Among the agencies represented is the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), in the Department of the Interior. Many of its programs are among the more controversial of those funded in the bill. For FWS appropriations in FY2012, on July 12, 2011 the House Appropriations Committee approved H.R. 2584 (H.Rept. 112-151) containing $1.19 billion for the agency, down 21% from the FY2011 level of $1.50 billion. In discussing the rationale for the broad reductions for FWS and other agencies, the committee stated in its report that “Congress must take immediate action to put our nation’s fiscal house in order by reducing Federal spending, balancing the budget, and creating jobs to put our economy on a sustainable, healthy course for the future.” From July 25 to July 28, 2011, the full House considered the bill; during consideration, two amendments affecting FWS were adopted. One concerned funds for land acquisition; it was adopted by voice vote. Another, affecting restrictions on the protection of additional species under the Endangered Species Act, was approved by recorded vote. An amendment concerning protection of wolves was rejected. Further consideration of the bill was postponed; press reports indicated that the measure, along with other appropriations bills, may be folded into a larger omnibus bill during the fall.

For FWS, each account was reduced to some degree relative to the FY2011 level. A few accounts or subaccounts were proposed for zero funding: listing and critical habitat designation under the Endangered Species Program, portions of the land acquisition program for the National Wildlife Refuge System, portions of the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund (which funds grants to states for endangered species conservation), the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Fund, and competitive state grants under the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants account.

This report analyzes the FWS funding levels contained in the FY2012 appropriations bill. Emphasis is on FWS funding for programs of interest to Congress, now or in recent years. Each of the related policy issues is explained in more detail in the report. Several current controversies over appropriations levels or funding restrictions are discussed in more detail, including elimination of funding for certain programs under the Endangered Species Act; funding levels for fish hatcheries, payments to counties in lieu of taxes, and land acquisition; and further restrictions concerning protection of gray wolves.

Date of Report: September
7, 2011
Number of Pages:
Order Number: R41
Price: $29.95

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