Note: Please add one only signer per chapter to represent your organization.
November XX, 2016
The Honorable Thad Cochran Senator Barbara MikulskiChairman Ranking MemberCommittee on Appropriations Committee on AppropriationsUnited States Senate United States SenateWashington, D.C. 20510 Washington, D.C. 20510
The Honorable Hal Rogers The Honorable Nita Lowey Chairman Ranking MemberCommittee on Appropriations Committee on Appropriations U.S. House of Representatives U.S. House of Representatives Washington, D.C. 20515 Washington, D.C. 20515
Dear Chairman Cochran, Ranking Member Mikulski, Chairman Rogers, and Ranking Member Lowey,
On behalf of the undersigned chapters of the National Audubon Society, we urge you to support strong funding for programs and policies that protect our nation’s birds and other wildlife as part of the final appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2017.
More than 46 million Americans participate in birdwatching, and countless more enjoy their presence on a daily basis. Birds provide vital services to our ecosystems, including as plant pollinators, and serve as key signals for the health of our environment. They also help support our economy, as birdwatchers spend more than $100 billion each year that drives spending in our cities and states, creating $13 billion in local, state, and federal tax revenue, and more than 650,000 jobs.
The FY17 appropriations bills provide an opportunity to support thriving bird populations and benefit our communities. First, we urge you to oppose harmful policy riders that would negatively impact birds and other wildlife and undermine core environmental laws. Proposed riders, such as a provision that would undo critical conservation protections for the Greater Sage-Grouse in the FY17 House Interior Appropriations bill, would set back years of collaborative progress toward needed solutions.
Second, we urge you to fully fund conservation programs. These include programs that help protect and restore habitat, such as the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, State and Tribal Wildlife Grants, and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. We also urge you to fund water conservation efforts that help reduce stress to rivers and streams that are critical for people and birds. Programs such as WaterSMART and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program help to increase water efficiency at a time when regions such as the Colorado River Basin have seen more than sixteen years of drought. We encourage you to include $100 million for drought response in the West and $150 million for USDA’s Watershed program to further address this pressing challenge.
Thank you for your consideration of our views.