|Federal Budget Demonstrates Continued Emphasis on Outdoor Recreation|
With a continued emphasis on outdoor recreation, renewable energy, and protecting our country’s natural resources, Obama’s 2013 budget maintains funding during tough economic times when it comes to the environment, conservation, and management of our nation’s land and waters. Persistent support of land and water protection means continued access and cleaner waters for paddlers, as well as assurance that those runs will be there for future generations of paddlers to come.
"This Budget reflects the importance of safeguarding our environment while strengthening our economy. We do not have to choose between having clean air and clean water and growing the economy. By conserving iconic American landscapes, restoring significant ecosystems from the Everglades to the Great Lakes, and achieving measurable improvements in water and air quality, we are working with communities to protect the natural resources that serve as the engines of their local economies,” says Obama in the Budget Message of the President.
The Department of Agriculture, which works to conserve our landscapes and promote outdoor recreation in national forests and working lands, was awarded $23 billion in discretionary funding. The budget emphasizes investment in biofuel research; increased efficiency in the spending of federal dollars through interagency efforts to improve water quality, improved forest conservation through landscape scale efforts, and streamlining operations. Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, said, "The 2013 budget will increase the record number of acres of working land in conservation programs, rewarding farmers, ranchers and growers for cleaning our air and water, preserving soil and wildlife habitat.”
The Department of Interior, which includes the Bureau of Land Management, received $11.4 billion, a one percent increase above the 2012 enacted level, reflecting "an ongoing commitment to critical landscapes and infrastructure.” Outlined in the Department of Interior’s key responsibilities are to invest in America’s Great Outdoors programs that support conservation and outdoor recreation that create millions of jobs, generate hundreds of millions in tax revenue, and billions in national economic activity. "As our Nation’s economy continues to gain strength, we must make tough budget choices and strategic investments to maintain strong support for stewardship of the Nation’s natural and cultural resources and continue to advance improvements for Indians,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar said in announcing the Administration’s budget. "The President’s proposal takes a thoughtful approach, one that allows Interior to achieve our critical missions and to do our part in maintaining a disciplined and responsible budget. Interior’s work remains vital to powering our Nation’s sustained economic growth,” Salazar added. "We are helping to build a comprehensive domestic energy economy – creating American jobs and driving innovation. We are ushering in a new era of conservation to protect the lands, water and wildlife that power local economies, drive tourism, and define us as a people.”
The Environmental Protection Agency’s budget was cut by 1.2%, but funding was increased for agency priorities. Demonstrating an emphasis on sound and reliable science, the National Science Foundation was awarded $7.4 billion (an increase $340 million) to be heavily invested in clean energy research.
Echoed throughout the 2013 budget is continued efforts to restore significant ecosystems such as the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay, California Bay-Delta, Everglades, and the Gulf Coast. Promoting ecological sustainability and resilience in these areas are paramount.
The ACA applauds the Obama administration for taking proactive steps to ensure a cleaner and healthier future for paddlers and generations to come.
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