Congress Gives Interior Programs a Treat

Yesterday, Congress handed out a giant treat to agencies charged with protecting and managing our nation’s wildlife and natural resources. The House and Senate have approved a $32.2 billion Interior and Environment Appropriations bill — a $4.7 billion increase over 2009 funding levels — which gives a much needed boost to conservation programs across the board and provides agencies the resources they need to take on new climate change initiatives. The bill includes:

$450 million to protect lands for conservation, recreation, and wildlife habitat under the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

$641 million to protect the nation’s Great Bodies of Water, including the Chesapeake Bay, Puget Sound, Long Island Sound, Gulf of Mexico, Lake Champlain, and Lake Pontchartrain. $475 million of this money will go toward Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.

$385 million for programs that address global climate change, including $67 million for priority climate change research at the U.S. Geological Survey, $15 million for USGS’s National Global Warming and Wildlife Science Center, which will help safeguard wildlife threatened by climate change, and $55 million for on-the-ground monitoring and climate safeguards in national parks, national wildlife refuges, and other public lands.

$90 million for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program, which provides state wildlife agencies and their partners a broad suite of proactive conservation tools.

$503.3 million for the National Wildlife Refuge System to provide critically needed staff, implement climate change strategies, and improve conservation efforts.

Here’s what NWF’s Legislative Director, Corry Westbrook, had to say about the news:

“Like a shot of adrenalin, this bill will breathe new life into our nation’s conservation programs.For too long, key conservation programs and agencies and have been shortchanged and undercut. Congress has reached the bar set by President Obama by delivering the best Interior appropriations bill we have seen in