Bush Administration's '05 Budget Slashes Money for Parks

Article excerpt

The Bush administration's proposed budget, sent to Congress on February 2, has been under development for more than a year. But the real challenges lie ahead, as closer analysis of recently passed items such as Medicare reform (including some prescription drug benefits) and near-term proposals such as reauthorization of surface transportation and an energy program have pushed real and projected federal deficits beyond congressional and public expectations.

The aspects of the president's budget that fund the Department of the Interior continue to divert resources away from Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) state and local grants and the Urban Park and Recreation Recovery (UPARR) program, according to budget documents that detail the administration's request for fiscal year 2005.

Despite claims of full funding of principal LWCF purposes, the president's budget includes only $93.8 million for state assistance grants (plus about $2.5 million for grants administration) and $220.2 million for federal land systems. Allocations to federal systems are (in millions): National Forest System, $66.8; Bureau of Land Management (BLM), $24; Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), $45; and National Park Service (NPS), $84.3.

The budget proposes to fund a number of other activities from the LWCF, including a "Challenge Cost Share" (Cooperative Conservation Initiative) for BLM, FWS and NPS ($53.97 million total); "Partners for Fish and Wildlife," FWS ($50 million); state/tribal wildlife grants, FWS ($80 million); (private) landowner incentive grants, FWS ($50 million); cooperative endangered species grants, FWS ($90 million); and North American Wildlife Conservation Fund grants, FWS ($54 million). …

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