Stimulus Bill Funding, Congressional Recesses
Stimulus Bill Includes Billions for Natural Resource Agencies
Today the House and Senate are expected to pass an $789 billion economic stimulus package. The Land Trust Alliance has been engaged in this process from the very beginning, but clear Congressional and Administration guidelines from the outset made significant new funding for land conservation unlikely. That said, the final package does include over $15 billion for federal natural resource agencies, some of which may be of help to your land trust--if you act fast!
The Alliance worked with partners to support conservation funding in general, and we hope that land trusts will benefit from some of these programs:
$145 million to the Natural Resources Conservation Service for the purchase of easements on and restoration of flood-prone farmland--the clearest opportunity for land trusts to fund acquisition with this bill.
$230 million to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, $1 billion to the Bureau of Reclamation, $5 billion to the Corps of Engineers and another $195 million to NRCS, all available, at least in part, for watershed restoration, including projects like dam removal, wetlands restoration and fish ladders on private lands.
$250 million to the U.S. Forest Service for cooperative projects to benefit state and private lands, primarily hazardous fuels reduction and post-fire restoration.
$290 million to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, $905 million to the National Park Service, $320 million to the Bureau of Land Management and another $950 million to the Forest Service, all nominally for projects on federal lands, but if your organization has properties adjacent to federal lands, there could be opportunities for partnerships on projects like habitat restoration and trail building.
At least 3% of the $27.5 billion in state transportation funding will go to Transportation Enhancement projects which can include acquisition of scenic or historic easements, trail building and environmental mitigation.
At least 20% of EPA's $6 billion in Safe Drinking Water Act funding will be available for unconventional water quality projects which have included land conservation in the past.
In every case, speed is of the essence! If you hope to benefit from this funding, you should call your local offices of these agencies today and get on their radar screen. Agencies are required to detail their plans within 30 days and obligate funds to specific projects within 90 days, so it's important to sell them on your priorities today.
Congressional Recesses: Town Halls Now, Site Visits in April
Between now and their adjournment in the fall, Members of Congress will spend ten weeks, and almost every weekend, back in their districts meeting with constituents like you. An in-district meeting is a great chance to meet with your Representative in a more casual environment and plant the seeds of a truly lasting relationship.
Next week is the President's Day recess, and while it may be too late to schedule an event, it's almost certain your Representative will be hosting several public events such as town hall meetings and pancake breakfasts. These are great opportunities to meet your Representative and ask him or her to become an original cosponsor of easement incentive legislation. To find out what events they're hosting, simply visit their page at www.house.gov, call your nearest district office, and ask.
The single best way to develop lasting relationships with your Members of Congress is to invite them out into the field to see the special places you're conserving and meet landowners benefiting from the easement incentive. Now is the time to invite them to a site visit over the Spring District Work Period, April 4-19. Visit our site visits webpage for step-by-step advice, a sample meeting request, media templates and a photo gallery of successful events.
Please don't hesitate to ask for advice, and please send photos of your event to firstname.lastname@example.org so we can add you to the gallery.
Thanks for helping! ...and a special thanks to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and America Bikes for these late-breaking stimulus numbers.