Statement of Gale A. Norton Secretary of the Interior Before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development
April 26, 2001
I am pleased to appear before you today with William McDonald to present the fiscal year 2002 budget for the Bureau of Reclamation and for implementation of the Central Utah Project Completion Act.
I appreciate the opportunity to highlight a number of important initiatives, before turning to the requests before this Subcommittee.
In the Service of Conservation
For several months, I've been explaining what it is to be both a compassionate conservative and a passionate conservationist. The Department's 2002 budget exemplifies these concepts. It's a budget that's compassionate in the way it protects our environment and conservative in how it spends taxpayers' money and gives local people more control over the lands they know and the lands they love.
This budget supports our efforts to conserve and manage the great wild places and unspoiled landscapes of this country, that are the common heritage of all Americans. Using consultation, communication, and collaboration, we will forge partnerships with interested citizens and ensure success in our effort to conserve America's most precious places. We can achieve this while maintaining America's prosperity and economic dynamism, respecting constitutional rights, and nurturing diverse traditions and culture.
The President's Budget outlines actions that make the government more accountable for how it spends taxpayer dollars and for achieving results. This budget emphasizes the importance of working in partnership with States, local communities, and the private sector. The budget pays down our national debt, sets aside a contingency fund for future needs and emergencies, and provides broad, fair, and responsible tax relief.
The 2002 budget for the Department of the Interior proposes important initiatives that fulfill the President's commitments and support the goals that he and I share. Within our budget you will find increased resources to support high priorities, including conservation of America's wild places through innovative environmental partnerships. The budget proposes the revitalization of the State portion of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and the establishment of new landowner incentive and stewardship programs to help individuals protect imperiled species, enhance habitat, and conserve fragile land. The budget supports our shared goals to eliminate the National Park Service backlog over five years and improve natural resource management. The 2002 budget seeks resources that will enable us to achieve real results for every Indian child and upholds the President's commitment to leave no child behind, by investing in repair and replacement of Indian schools and increasing funding for school operations.
The budget also funds five recently adopted Indian land and water settlements, maintains a high level of funding to prepare for and suppress wildfire and to treat forests and range lands to reduce fire danger, and maintains historically high levels of funding for operational programs at national parks, wildlife refuges, and public lands. The budget also proposes management reforms that respond to the President's challenge to create a bureaucracy that is more flexible, creative, and responsive; to bring decision making closer to the customer; while continuing our emphasis on front-line service.
The 2002 budget for the Department of the Interior is $10.0 billion in appropriations, a funding level that is $345.7 million, or 3.4 percent below the 2001 enacted level. To give perspective to this comparison, it is important to note that 2001 appropriations reflected extraordinary growth of 20 percent in funding over 2000 levels, and included substantial emergency and one-time appropriations that need not be continued in 2002. When compared to historical funding levels, the 2002 budget request is $1.4 billion or 16 percent higher than 2000 and $1.9 billion or 23 percent higher than 1999. This budget is the second highest in the history of this Department.
In fact, for Department programs that are under the jurisdiction of the Subcommittee, the request for annual appropriations is $819.7 million, an increase of $3.1 million over the 2001 level.
The Department of the Interior has a long and proud history of working in partnership with State, local, and private landowners in the conservation of natural resources. The 2002 budget builds on this capacity and provides new resources and tools to States, communities, organizations, and individuals to take leadership roles in finding innovative ways for conservation in cooperation with the Federal government.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund was created in 1965 to assure that revenues from offshore resources that belong to all of the people of the United States are used to develop and preserve recreation and conservation benefits. The LWCF has made an outstanding contribution over the last three and one-half decades by protecting America's land heritage and providing recreational opportunities. However, the promise for full funding that was made in the authorizing legislation has not been kept. From 1965 to 1995, funding for State grants averaged only $108 million a year and no State grant funds were appropriated for years 1996 through 1999.
The 2002 budget keeps the promise for a fully funded Federal-State partnership, requesting the authorized level of $450.0 million for State grants, an increase of $359.7 million over the 2001 level of $90.3 million. Amounts that would be allocated to States, the District of Columbia, and the Territories are significantly increased, expanding every State's capability to support our shared goals for conservation. The budget proposes to make $10.0 million available for competitive grants to Tribes, funding tribal participation in this program for the first time.
The 2002 budget also proposes to revitalize the State grant program both by increasing the resources available and by expanding the scope of activities eligible for funding. It allows States flexibility to determine their own priorities in recreation and conservation, and encourages program innovation. Conservation of wildlife and habitat has become a major component of conserving and enjoying our natural resources. In this broadened State grants program, States can continue to use funding for traditional recreational venues such as ball fields and parks. They will also be able to use this funding to protect and enhance habitat for fish and wildlife. The updated LWCF State grant program incorporates the purposes of more narrowly-focused grant programs that support goals including: urban park recreation and recovery, wildlife conservation and restoration, migratory bird habitat conservation, and the conservation of habitat for threatened and endangered species. To enhance collaboration the budget allows States to partner with non-governmental entities to plan State-wide recreational needs, enhance lands that have already been acquired, and to acquire easements.
The 2002 budget proposes $100.5 million for three Fish and Wildlife Service programs to further facilitate conservation partnerships. The request includes: $54.7 million for candidate conservation, threatened and endangered species recovery, habitat conservation planning, and HCP implementation through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund; $14.9 million for wetlands and migratory bird conservation activities through the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund; and $30.9 million to enter into partnerships with private landowners for conservation purposes through the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program.
The 2002 budget includes two new programs to promote conservation in the United States. The Fish and Wildlife Service budget proposes $50.0 million to establish a Landowner Incentive program for grants that are competitively awarded and cost shared. Grants provided to States, the District of Columbia, Territories, and Tribes will help landowners protect and manage habitat, while continuing to engage in traditional land use practices.
This initiative is modeled on the successful private lands enhancement program in Texas. This program provides technical assistance to landowners that want to consider wildlife needs in their land use practices. Texas wildlife biologists work with private and public land managers in the preservation and enhancement of habitat for important wildlife species.
The budget also recognizes the importance of private citizens and non-governmental groups in the protection and conservation of natural resources. The 2002 budget includes $10.0 million for a new Private Stewardship grants program that will support individuals and groups engaged in voluntary land and wildlife conservation efforts. This funding will support local community efforts to protect imperiled species, enhance habitat for fish and wildlife, and conserve important resources.
In support of our collaborative and consultative approach, our 2002 budget proposes $259.1 million for Federal land acquisition projects that focus on the use of alternative and innovative conservation tools such as easements, purchases of development rights, and land exchanges. We have made sure that these proposed acquisitions include the input and participation of the affected local communities. For example, the Bureau of Land Management budget proposes $2.0 million to acquire 788 acres of conservation easement interests and 100 acres of fee simple interests to protect scenic and recreational values in the Lower Salmon River Area of Critical Environmental Concern in Idaho. Acquisition of these precious resources has the support of the Friends of the Lower Salmon and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. By using easements, we can leave the lands in private ownership, while protecting the breathtaking scenery of the river canyon.
America is a land of singular beauty and Americans are proud of the many natural treasures within our shores. The President and I believe that a top priority of the Department of the Interior is the conservation of these treasures. The 2002 budget proposes increased funding to conserve the national treasures in our national parks. The 2002 budget includes an increase of $61.1 million in appropriations, coupled with targeted recreation and concession fees for a total of $439.6 million to eliminate the maintenance backlog that is an obstacle to resource protection. We are also providing $20.0 million to restore natural resources, including removal and management of invasive species, in national parks. This initiative will help to restore our parks and ensure a positive legacy of protecting our cultural, natural, and recreational treasures for Americans today and in the future.
One top priority concerns the special responsibilities of the Secretary of the Interior with regard to American Indians. The President and I have committed to uphold the unique government-to-government relationship with Tribes. There is much that needs to be done and that we can do, in partnership with our Nation's Indian Tribes, to improve conditions and provide a more hopeful future. The 2002 budget includes $2.2 billion for BIA, an increase of $65.9 million or three percent over the 2001 level, and a 17 percent increase over the 2000 level. The budget contains substantial funding for Native American initiatives and builds on increases provided last year for school construction, Indian education programs, and trust management improvements.
Federal lands administered by the Department of the Interior play an important role in ensuring domestic energy security, supporting economic development, and providing important opportunities for the public to experience the Nation's natural heritage. As stewards of public lands and resources, The Department must balance the development of mineral and energy resources with environmental protection. The 2002 budget proposes program increases totaling $22.1 million for BLM and $14.7 million for MMS to support this balanced approach.
The 2002 request for the Bureau of Reclamation totals $783.5 million, and includes $763.5 million for Reclamation's traditional programs, a decrease of $13.3 million from 2001. It also includes $20.0 million for the California Bay-Delta Restoration account, for which no funds were provided in 2001.
Reclamation continues to meet its historic mission of supplying water for agriculture, and for a multitude of other purposes. Lands served by Reclamation's projects have been or are being developed to meet agricultural, tribal, urban, and industrial needs. More recently, protecting the environment and providing recreational opportunities have become important to the public, while municipal and industrial development has demanded more high quality water. Future population growth, especially in urban areas, will inevitably lead to even greater competition for the West's limited water resources.
Reclamation's challenge today is to work with its customers, States, Tribes, and other stakeholders to find ways to balance and provide for this new mix of water resource needs. As a result, while continuing to develop authorized facilities to store and convey new water supplies, Reclamation is placing greater emphasis on: managing its existing facilities efficiently and effectively; promoting the conservation, reclamation, and reuse of existing water supplies; protecting and restoring fish and wildlife resources; and implementing business practices that will provide effective and efficient service to customers, partners, and employees.
The 2002 request for the Bureau of Reclamation totals $783.5 million. This includes $20.0 million in new funds for the California Bay-Delta Restoration account, and $763.5 million for Reclamation's traditional programs, a decrease of $13.3 million from the 2001 enacted level. Mr. McDonald's statement will provide details about the 2002 request for Reclamation's programs, but let me say a few words about the request for the CALFED Bay-Delta Program.
In August 2000, Federal and State officials signed a Record of Decision finalizing a long-term, $8.7 billion, plan for restoring the Bay-Delta ecosystem and improving water management. That plan reflects a broad approach to addressing water quality, water supply reliability, levee system integrity, and ecosystem quality. In the near term, implementation of the plan is being coordinated by a regional State/Federal Policy Team and funded primarily by the State and Federal governments.
To allow the Department to begin its efforts under the Record of Decision, our 2002 budget contains funds for Bay-Delta activities that can be undertaken within existing statutory authorities, including $20.0 million in the California Bay-Delta Restoration account. These funds will be used for the Federal share of the costs of the Environmental Water Account and of CALFED Program management. In addition, our 2002 budget includes $64.7 million in other Reclamation accounts, and $10.5 million in the accounts of other Interior bureaus, for activities that directly support Bay-Delta Program objectives and priorities in the areas of ecosystem restoration, water use efficiency, storage and conveyance, and science programs.
The Central Utah Project Completion Act provided for completion of the Central Utah Project by the Central Utah Water Conservancy District; authorized funding for fish, wildlife, and recreation mitigation and conservation; established the Utah Reclamation Mitigation and Conservation Commission; and provided for the Ute Indian Rights Settlement. As the responsibilities of the Secretary under that Act may not be delegated to Reclamation, a Program Office was established in Provo, Utah, which provides oversight, review, and liaison with the District, the Mitigation Commission, and the Ute Indian Tribe.
The 2002 request provides $36.2 million to implement provisions of the Act, a decrease of $3.6 million from the 2001 level. The request includes $23.8 million for use by the District to continue construction on the remaining segments of the Diamond Fork System; to implement approved water conservation and water management improvement projects; and to continue development of planning and NEPA documents on facilities to deliver water in the Utah Lake drainage basin.
The request also includes $10.7 million to be transferred to the Mitigation Commission for use in implementing the fish, wildlife, and recreation mitigation and conservation projects authorized in Title III; and in completing mitigation measures committed to in pre-1992 Reclamation planning documents. Finally, the request includes $1.7 million for activities administered by the Program Office.
In conclusion, the 2002 budget provides strong support for Interior's programs and for the men and women who carry out our mission. Further, it provides expanded opportunities to work with our constituencies involving them to a greater degree with expanded consultation, communication, and collaboration. As we expand their involvement, we can increasingly benefit from their creativity and capacity to innovate and thereby increase our effectiveness.
I was reminded very recently that we can accomplish more by working together and building partnerships across ideological and political boundaries. Three weeks ago, I helped to release five endangered California condors back into the wild, achieving something that was once thought to be impossible. The captive breeding effort and subsequent reintroduction of the condors into the wild was made possible by collaboration with State, local, and private organizations.
This concludes my overview of the 2002 budget proposal for the Department of the Interior and my written statement. I will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.