WGA submits Appropriations testimony on ESA, ‘fire-borrowing,’ PILT funding

James D. Ogsbury, Executive Director of the Western Governors’ Association, recently submitted written testimony on Western policy issues to the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies.

The testimony, submitted on behalf of the WGA, focused on issues impacted by the appropriations and activities of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Some of the topics included:

  • States as full and equal partners in the implementation of the Endangered Species Act;
  • Continued use of state fish and wildlife data is an integral element of natural resource decisions;
  • Enactment and full funding of a permanent and stable mechanism for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, as these appropriations represent important compensation for the disproportionate acreage of non-taxable federal lands in the West. Similarly, payments under the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act (SRS) are critical;
  • A solution for “fire borrowing,” by which the funding for routine USFS management activities is transferred to emergency firefighting activities;
  • Adequate funding levels for programs that collect data for water management and drought response planning.
  • A process to establish, monitor and adjust Appropriate Management Levels for wild horses and burros on BLM land;
  • Funding for EPA to assist western states in discharging their ozone responsibilities under the tightened National Ambient Air Quality Standard.

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