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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

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 FY2012, the Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 112-74, Division E, H.Rept. 112-331) provided $1.48 billion for FWS, down 2% from the FY2011 level of $1.50 billion. (This measure also provided appropriations for most federal government operations for the remainder of FY2012.) For FWS, most accounts were reduced to some degree relative to the FY2011 level.

This report analyzes the FWS funding levels contained in the FY2012 appropriations bill. Emphasis is on FWS funding for programs that have generated congressional debate or particular constituent interest, now or in recent years. Several controversies arose during the appropriations cycle over funding levels or restrictions on funding: 

          The Administration proposed limitations on funds that could be used to respond to petitions to list new species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), arguing that petitions diverted the agency from listing species with higher conservation priority; others argued that without petitions FWS would list fewer species. The Administration also proposed to limit spending on listing foreign species. Both limits were accepted. 
          The House bill proposed to limit judicial review of FWS decisions concerning the delisting of gray wolves under ESA. This provision was eliminated from the final bill. 
          The Administration proposed cutbacks in funding for certain fish hatcheries involved in mitigation of the effects of federal water projects. FWS argued that the mitigation burden belonged on the shoulders of the agencies responsible for the projects. Congress did cut some of the program, but also specified a transfer of funds to FWS to support hatchery mitigation. 
          The Administration proposed elimination of annual appropriations for payments to counties for lost revenues due to the presence of non-taxable FWS lands. Congress continued the appropriation, with small reductions from previous appropriations. 
          The House bill proposed to eliminate nearly all funding for FWS land acquisition. Congress reduced but did not eliminate the program. 
All of these issues are discussed in more detail below, along with funding levels for other programs.

Date of Report: January
4, 2012
Number of Pages:
Order Number: R4
Price: $29.95

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