Thursday, November 02, 2006

Bush Unilaterally Cuts Wildlife Refuge Funding

My previous post below discussed the anticipated funding cuts directed at the National Wildlife Refuge system, administered by the Fish and Wildlife Service.  Comprised of 545 separate refuges, it encompasses some 96 million acres.  Visitors are estimated at 40 million per year.

Now, unilaterally, and without any congressional input, President Bush has ordered a 10 percent cutback in system funding.

ENS Link

WASHINGTON, DC, November 1, 2006 (ENS) - The Bush administration has ordered a 10 percent across-the-board cutback in funding for the National Wildlife Refuge System, leaving dozens of refuges without any assigned staff, according to agency documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, PEER.

The Refuge System, a part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, will see declining budgets through 2011 under the Bush plan, despite significant increases in the number of refuges, visitors and an array of other costs, according to PEER, a national association of government employees in natural resources agencies.

PEER says that since Congress has yet to act on the Fish and Wildlife Service budget for FY 2007, the Bush administration is implementing the cuts without waiting for Congressional approval.

Sure, why involve Congress?  Things could just get far too complicated.  Congress is really just a rubberstamp for excutive whim anyway, right?  Better to just do the job quickly and without any oversight.

And though the $380 million budget will decrease "moderately", the expenditures fail to acknowledge that 17 new refuges have been added since 2001.

The southeast will be hardest hit.

The Southeast Region, with the largest number of refuges, 128, will eliminate approximately 80 staff positions, leaving 43 of its refuges with no staff at all, a condition the agency calls "Preservation Status."

Grady Hocutt of PEER:

"Make no mistake about it - this is the first stage in dismantling the National Wildlife Refuge System," said Grady Hocutt, a former long-time refuge manager who directs the PEER refuge program. "It took a century to build this network of wildlife sanctuaries into the envy of the world but much of that work is being undone in just this decade."

"Redirecting a tiny fraction of what audits show is wasted or stolen in Iraq would allow for full funding of all refuge system needs," added Hocutt, noting that the U.S. is spending an estimated $177 million per day in Iraq."

PEER can be found here.



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