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Don't Let Conservation Funding Wither in the Summer Heat

Advocates Alert: July 20, 2011

Even as senior officials continue to debate big-picture solutions to our federal debt crisis, the House of Representatives is pushing ahead with draconian cuts to next year's appropriations for conservation programs that have traditionally enjoyed broad bi-partisan support. Now more than ever, it's important that legislators know about the good work you're accomplishing with help from these programs. Now is the time to schedule visits with your members of Congress and their staff over the August recess, so that they know your concerns before the House and Senate negotiate final funding numbers in the fall.


Don't Let Drastic Cuts to LWCF, FLP and NAWCA Go Unnoticed

The House may vote as soon as this weekend on an Interior Appropriations Bill that dramatically cuts funding for several land trust priorities:

  • The Forest Legacy Program (FLP) is cut by 95% to just $3 million, barely enough to meet basic expenses, let alone purchase new easements.
  • Overall, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is cut by 80% to just $65.8 million, the lowest level in its 45-year history. That's just 7% of the $900 million proposed in President Obama's Fiscal Year 2012 Budget Request and just 1% of the offshore oil royalties supposedly set aside for this purpose.
  • The North American Wetlands Conservation Act (NAWCA) gets $20 million and State Wildlife Grants gets $22 million. These numbers are an improvement from the complete elimination proposed in February's H.R. 1, but they still represent 46% and 64% cuts respectively.
  • Neotropical Migratory Bird Treaty Act funding is eliminated entirely and the Cooperative Endangered Species Fund (Section 6) receives a paltry $2.85 million.
  • The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) would receive $250 million, a 48% cut from FY 2010.

Thanks in large part to our partners in the sportsmen's community, these programs have traditionally enjoyed broad, bipartisan support. The Alliance is working with a broad coalition of national organizations to fight further cuts on the House floor and to lay the groundwork for restoring funding as this bill moves to the Senate. Earlier this year, the Senate greatly improved funding levels for FY 2011, and we hope they'll do the same for FY 2012.

If your Representative has a history of supporting these programs, please consider asking him or her to speak up and not let these 46-100% cuts go unnoticed on the House floor. Brief remarks highlighting the real impact of these important conservation programs in your state may help to avert further cuts.

Wondering about FRPP, GRP or other farm bill programs? They sustained cuts in last month's Agriculture Appropriations Bill, and even though our national call-in day has passed, you can still help by calling your Senators.

UPDATE: See our July 25 alert for information about specific amendments that your Reps can support.

Hometown Visits Have National Impact -- Schedule for August Now

In case you missed it, last week's eNews featured inspiring stories of local land trusts hosting events for their members of Congress at conserved properties in their districts. Every land trust -- large and small -- can help the land trust community (and themselves) by building relationships with their representatives in Congress. In-district events are one of the best ways to solidify such a relationship.

With attacks on conservation funding and the redesign of the tax code, building our collective influence in Washington is critical. Now is the time to join land trusts across the nation and contact your legislators to schedule a site visit during their August recess (Aug 6 - Sept 6). You can show them firsthand what saving land is really about.

Protect the Charitable Deduction

Speaking of the tax code, Independent Sector is organizing a community-wide effort to oppose caps on charitable tax deductions as part of the debt limit negotiations. This week, the Alliance pitched in for a full-page ad in Politico and we hope you'll join them for a webinar on August recess events:

Make the Best Use of Congressional Recess: Save the Charitable Deduction
Wednesday, July 27 | 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM eastern
Free for Independent Sector members | $75 for non-members
Click here to register

Two More Webinars on Advocacy

Alliance for Justice: Lobbying Rules for Nonprofits
Thursday, July 28 | 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM eastern
Click here to register ($35)

Nonprofit Vote: How Nonprofits Can Take a Stand on Ballot Questions
Thursday, July 28 | 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM eastern
Click here to register (Free)

Yes, both webinars are at the same time, but Nonprofit Vote posts a free archive of past webinars within a few days. You'll find more tips for legal and effective nonprofit advocacy on our Advocacy Tips page.

Thanks for being an Advocate!

H.R. 1964 Co-sponsors Added Since Last Update:

  • Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX/27th)
  • Rep. J. Randy Forbes (R-VA/4th)


S. 339 Co-sponsor Added Since Last Update:

  • Senator Christopher Coons (D-DE)

See the full list and map at: www.lta.org/easementincentive/cosponsors.

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Advocates Alerts

February 12: The House successfully voted 279-137, demonstrating a supermajority (67%) of support, on H.R. 644, a package of charitable incentives including the conservation tax incentive.Now we need your help in the Senate to secure co-sponsors! Sens. Heller and Stabenow have requested land trusts’ assistance in asking senators to cosponsor S. 330, the Conservation Easement Incentive Act. Learn more »

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