House Cuts Wetlands Funds

WASHINGTON - The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership’s Agriculture and Wildlife Working Group today expressed its disappointment in the rejection of a proposed amendment in the House of Representatives that would have restored full funding to the Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP). An earlier House measure asserted a dramatic cut to the program. The WRP is a highly successful, voluntary conservation program contained in the Farm Bill that compensates farmers for taking marginal, often-flood-prone cropland out of production and restoring it to a more natural state. The amendment offered by Rep. Gil Gutknecht (R-Minn.) would have allowed the full number of acres authorized by the Farm Bill to be enrolled in the program, an approach backed by the Bush Administration. The amendment failed 235-185. “Decreasing funding to the Wetlands Reserve Program is simply unacceptable to the hunting, fishing and conservation community,” said Dave Nomsen, Vice President of Governmental Affairs for Pheasants Forever and a co-chair of the TRCP working group. “We hope that the Senate hears our concerns.” Bart James, also a working group co-chair and Ducks Unlimited Government Affairs Representative, commented, “Reducing the number of acres that can be enrolled in WRP is sending the wrong message to America. Saving and restoring wetlands that provide wildlife habitat, clean our water, and protect our watersheds at modest costs under the WRP is a tremendous value. There are few programs that give taxpayers this kind of documented return for their money.” The fish and wildlife resources about which hunters, anglers and other conservationists care greatly depend on wetlands, and at a time when the U.S. continues to annually lose an average of 100,000 acres of our best, naturally occurring wetlands resources, it makes little sense to gut a cost-effective program with successful projects in all 50 states. The Agriculture and Wildlife Working Group includes representatives from Pheasants Forever, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Ducks Unlimited, The Wildlife Society, The Nature Conservancy, Trout Unlimited, National Association of Conservation Districts, Ruffed Grouse Society, Quail Unlimited, North American Grouse Partnership, American Sportfishing Association, Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation, Izaak Walton League of America, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Conservation Fund, Wildlife Management Institute, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and the National Wildlife Federation.