Policy Action: Conservation Needs Push as Budget Takes Shape

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Above: Your voice matters in the policy and budget debates in D.C. For more habitat, and more scenes like this in your future, get active now.

Quail Forever diving into conservation and access aspects of upcoming budget debates

As time goes on, Quail Forever continues to work hard on wildlife and conservation topics on multiple fronts in Washington D.C. Here is your monthly update on what’s happening.
 

Pittman Robertson Update

Earlier this month a hearing was held for H.R. 2591 (Modernizing Pittman-Robertson for Tomorrow’s Needs Act of 2017) in the Federal Lands Subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee. Bob Ziehmer, Senior Director of Conservation for Bass Pro Shops, testified as a witness.  

H.R. 2591, introduced by Rep. Austin Scott (GA) would help support state fish and wildlife agencies by:

*expanding their flexibility to use Pittman Robertson funds

*enhancing public communication surrounding Pittman-Robertson uses

*dedicating a portion of the funds to promote R3 (recruitment, retention, reactivation)

*providing additional support for recreational shooting activities 

The Pittman-Robertson Act dedicates funds from an 11 percent excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition to be apportioned to States for paying up to 75 percent of the cost-approved projects including acquisition and improvement of wildlife habitat, introduction of wildlife into suitable habitat, research into wildlife problems, surveys and inventories of wildlife problems, acquisition and development of access facilities for public use, and hunter education programs, including construction and operation of public target ranges.
 

VPA-HIP in Farm Bill

Before Christmas we shared with you that we had worked with conservation partners and Senators Daines (MT) and Bennett (CO) to introduce a marker bill for the Voluntary Public Access and Habitat Incentive Program (VPA-HIP). This bill reauthorizes the Voluntary Public Access program in the Farm Bill at $150 million over the next five years, up from $40 million in the last farm bill. 

Now, House members Dr. Roger Marshall (KS), Glenn Thompson (PA), Cheri Bustos (IL) and Debbie Dingell (MI) have introduced a companion bill (identical to the Senate version). Quail Forever volunteers and staff worked with those House offices last fall to promote the VPA-HIP program and ask for their support.

Please take some time to thank your Senators and Representatives for their support. The VPA-HIP language from both chambers will, we hope, be included in the Farm Bill legislation when it is released.
 

Budget Heating Up

President Trump has released his budget. His version recommends deep cuts to most conservation programs - something Pheasants Forever staff are working hard to counter both within the agencies and on the Hill.

Additionally, the budget supports the Secretary’s efforts to reorganize agency functions to improve the customer and consumer experience.  Under the new structure, the Farm Service Agency, Risk Management Agency and the Natural Resources Conservation Service would merge under the Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation.

The budget also includes proposals to streamline Federal conservation efforts to focus on programs that protect environmentally sensitive land and increase conservation practices and implementation.


Take Action Now

If you haven’t done so yet it’s not too late to call your member of Congress, and U.S. senators, and ask them to support a strong Conservation Title and 40 million acres of CRP in the next Farm Bill! It is rumored that both House and Senate Committees will be marking up their version of the Farm Bill this month, so please make the call today. 

The future of upland hunting and conservation depends on your voice being heard.

Locate your U.S. Senators.

Locate your U.S. House Representative.