Trump's budget cuts promise to cause headaches for outdoor industry

Budget cuts could cripple EPA, climate change work, and more
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The victims of budget cuts include the EPA, State Department, climate change work, Interior Department, Land and Water Conservation Fund, and more.

Land and Water Conservation Fund

The Appalachian Trail Conservancy acquired this 10,000-acre parcel in 2013 with major support from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which is at risk under Trump's budget proposal. // Photo by David A. Ramsey

If you’ve heard anything yet about President Donald Trump’s budget proposal, you’ve likely heard that it dramatically cuts the budgets of agencies like the EPA, State Department, and Department of Agriculture, while increasing spending on defense and, yes, that border wall.

The Outdoor Industry Association is currently reviewing specific cuts that could be detrimental to outdoor recreation. One line item of particular concern for environmental activists and conservationists is a possible cut of at least $120 million to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. That money has been crucial to countless communities over the years, though people rarely, if ever, are aware of which projects it has funded.

The Environmental Protection Agency could be decimated by the proposed 31 percent cuts, which would eliminate 3,200 jobs and 50 programs.

“[More cuts] won’t just drastically reduce EPA enforcement, it will bring it to a halt,” former head of the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Cynthia Giles wrote in an email to the Washington Post. “Not only will the staff be a shadow of its former self, the inspectors, lawyers and criminal agents who would be left would be unable to do their jobs, because these cuts would zero out the already small amount of funds used to do inspections, monitor pollution and file cases.”

Cuts to the State Department would effectively cease climate change work the U.S. has been conducting internationally, as it would stop payments to the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund and Climate Investment Funds.

The list of cuts goes on: the Department of the Interior, which already has a $12 billion backlog of national park maintenance projects, could see its budget cut by 12 percent, in spite of Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s promise to staff at his confirmation last month that he would fight against severe budget cuts. Trump, evidently, has not listened.

The U.S. Forest Service could see its appropriations cut by an unspecified amount. Like the National Park Service, the Forest Service is already struggling. It has spent a bigger and bigger portion of its budget each year on fighting forest fires, which have repeatedly sprouted in dry areas affected by drought and climate change.

Trump also proposed eliminating all financial allocations to 19 agencies, including the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

All of these cuts serve the purpose of beefing up military and homeland security spending, with $2.6 billion earmarked for construction on a wall between the United States and Mexico.

“It’s fitting for President Trump to release his budget in March, because this is simply madness,” said Cam Witten, government relations and budget specialist at The Wilderness Society, in a story on the organization’s blog. “This budget would decimate the very foundation of what makes America great: our parks, public lands, and historic leadership on conservation.”

Don't like the budget? Call Congress. Find phone numbers for your senators and representatives at whoismyrepresentative.com. Is the line busy, or did your call go to voicemail? Fax your members of Congress here, for free. (Millennials, stop freaking out. No fax machine knowledge or memory of the 1980s required.)

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