The National Trust was one of 48 conservation, preservation, parks and recreation groups that sent a letter to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne in support of increased budgetary resources for the National Landscape Conservation System in the FY’09 Interior (DOI) budget.
In a letter dated November 16th, the Trust and its coalition partners in the Conservation Alliance urged Secretary Kempthorne to make three important changes in addressing the needs of the Conservation System, a 26-million acre collection of national monuments, wilderness areas, scenic rivers, trails, and historic sites. Specifically, the letter states and requests that Interior to do the following with respect to the Conservation System:
1. Increase the Budget. The Alliance letter strongly recommends that Interior include at least $70 million for the Conservation System in the Department of Interior’s FY2009 budget. Although the Conservation System comprises 10% of BLM’s lands and facilitates one-third of its recreational use, the System receives less than 3% of the Bureau’s funding. As a result, staff is non-existent or minimal, creating resource degradation and allowing theft and vandalism to irreversibly destroy invaluable resources. $70 million in FY2009 constitutes only a modest increase over historic funding levels when accounting for inflation, significant increases in uncontrollable costs and the growth of the System. The System also needs Land and Water Conservation Fund support for important land acquisitions that would enhance public access and ease management.
2. Clarify the Budget. BLM needs to restructure and simplify the Conservation System’s budget, so that managers can adequately plan for their units and reporting can be clear and accurate. Currently, instead of having its own line item or budget sub-activities, funds for the System are cobbled together from 47 different BLM budget subactivities like recreation and range management. With such a complex and unpredictable budget, managers cannot plan, meet congressional mandates, report accomplishments, or be accountable to Congress and the public.
3. Feature the Conservation System in Budget Documents. Feature and include the Conservation System in the DOI’s FY2009 Budget in Brief, a key budget document that provides an excellent opportunity to educate the public and Congress about one of the Interior Department’s most outstanding lands systems.
The Trust and the Conservation Alliance are also supporting Legislation (S. 1193/HR 2016) to permanently establish and codify the Conservation System into public law.
For further information on activities of the Alliance, please visit http://www.conservationsystem.org/
Reprinted by permission of the Public Policy Department of the National Trust