|Secretary Kempthorne revealed the administration's proposed FY 2008 budget for the Department of the Interior at a 1:00 p.m. press conference on Monday, February 5, 2007.|
WASHINGTON — President Bush’s $10.7 billion budget for the Department of the Interior in FY2008 proposes record funding for national park operations and funding for the President’s National Parks Centennial Challenge, funding for initiatives that will promote healthy lands, safe Indian communities and improved Indian education, and full funding for the 2008 pay raise and other fixed costs.
“Given the President’s commitment to reduce deficits and balance the budget by 2012, this budget is a truly dramatic statement of the President’s commitment to national parks, improving the health of our working landscapes and helping build better lives for people in the communities we serve,” said Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne.
The 2008 budget of $2.4 billion for NPS includes $2.0 billion for park operations, the largest increase ever as part of the President’s National Parks Centennial Initiative. The National Parks Centennial Initiative will leverage public-private investment to generate up to $3 billion over 10 years to help parks prepare for their 100th anniversary in 2016.
“Park superintendents and advocates repeatedly tell me their greatest need and highest priority is to increase funding for daily park operations,” Kempthorne said. “I am delighted the President responded with this bold and visionary budget. It is exactly what the parks need to prepare for a new century of conservation, preservation and enjoyment and to inspire another generation of visitors.”
The increase in park operations includes the President’s Centennial Commitment of $100.0 million in annual Federal spending over a decade. This will fund park operations to hire 3,000 more seasonal park employees, guides and maintenance workers; enroll children in the Junior Ranger program; improve landscapes; and repair buildings. The budget also includes the President’s Centennial Challenge, which would make available $100.0 million in mandatory Federal funding in each of 10 years to match $100 million annually in private contributions to national parks.
The President’s Healthy Lands Initiative would provide $22.0 million to expand partnerships to conduct landscape-scale restoration in six areas of the West that provide both important wildlife habitat and vital energy resources for the Nation. In-kind and monetary contributions from partners would add at least another $10 million to the effort.
“This initiative will combine the wildlife science and land managing expertise of Interior agencies with the knowledge and experience of local communities to restore and protect working western landscapes that host both world class wildlife habitat and world class energy resources,” Kempthorne said.
Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Geological Survey will work together to restore and protect over 400,000 acres of significant wildlife habitat and protect species such as the sage grouse to prevent future listing under the Endangered Species Act in cooperation with federal leaseholders, private landowners, state, local and tribal partners and industry. These actions are essential to ensure that BLM can continue to provide access for energy development on public lands.
To advance American Indian education and tribal public safety, the President has proposed a $15.0 million investment to improve student performance in Indian schools and a $16.0 million increase to fund a Safe Indian Communities Initiative.
“Bureau of Indian Education schools should be models of performance for the No Child Left Behind Act,” Kempthorne said. “Yet, despite significant investments in education reforms and school construction, only 30 percent of the schools in the BIE system are meeting the Act’s goals. This additional investment will provide enhancements and tools to help these schools improve students’ academic achievements.” The budget seeks an increase of $15.0 million that will allow the Bureau of Indian Education to complete a set of comprehensive reforms of the educational programs and improve student achievement by 2014.
To combat a methamphetamine crisis that threatens the future of many communities in Indian Country, the Safe Indian Communities Initiative will strengthen law enforcement capabilities on tribal lands. Increased funding will be used to hire, train and equip law enforcement officers to combat the production and distribution of methamphetamine. Many of these communities have been targeted by organized crime and foreign drug cartels. “We will stop these peddlers of poison,” Kempthorne vowed.
Additional Conservation, Community Assistance Priorities
Cooperative Conservation: The budget includes $324.0 million for programs to build on successful partnerships across the country and expand opportunities for conservation that will leverage Federal investments to protect endangered and at-risk species. These programs engage local communities in conservation and resource management, foster innovation and achieve conservation goals while maintaining working landscapes. This request is an increase of $34.6 million over 2007.
Open Rivers and National Fish Habitat Initiative: These fishery conservation programs will leverage more than $16.2 million in Federal resources with partners to restore and protect aquatic habitats. An increase of $6.0 million for the Open Rivers Initiative will provide the Fish and Wildlife Service with $11.0 million to restore river habitats by removing obsolete stream barriers and repairing vital river ecosystems to benefit wildlife and communities. These programs are new additions to the suite of cooperative conservation programs.
Healthy Forests Initiative: The Department’s 2008 budget includes $307.3 million for the Healthy Lands Initiative. This includes $202.8 million to reduce the accumulation of hazardous fuels and help reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire. This is an increase of $3.0 million for fixed costs over the 2007 level. Interior has conducted hazardous fuels treatments on approximately seven million acres from 2001 through 2006 and increased treatments in the wildland-urban interface from 164,000 in 2001 to nearly 485,000 projected acres in 2007.
Oceans Conservation: The 2008 budget for Interior includes $929.5 million to support the President’s Ocean Action Plan. The 2008 budget includes a $3.0 million increase for the U.S. Geological Survey to conduct observations, research, seafloor mapping studies and evaluate and help implement forecasting models for responses to extreme weather events. This funding will also support the creation of an interagency national water quality monitoring network. The budget for FWS includes increased funding for management of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument.
Refuge and Species Protection: The FWS budget also includes $4.1 million in targeted increases for the National Wildlife Refuge System for species conservation focused on conserving and restoring the habitat necessary to sustain endangered, threatened and at-risk species.
American Indian Trust Fund Improvements: The 2008 budget continues to improve the management of trust for Indian beneficiaries. This includes $196.2 million, an increase of $15.4 million above the 2007 level for the Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians.
U.S. Insular Area Assistance: The budget request includes $403.8 million for the Office of Insular Affairs, an increase of $2.0 million over the FY 2007 continuing resolution. The budget will support long-term efforts throughout the U.S. insular territories and Freely Associated States to strengthen self-government and Compact of Free Association funding and technical assistance for brown tree snake control, insular management controls, coral reef conservation, and water and wastewater projects.
Interior Budget Highlights
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: The 2008 budget includes $1.3 billion for FWS to support a range of important conservation initiatives, including efforts to improve our nation’s native fisheries and assist landowners who volunteer to manage their property for the benefit of imperiled wildlife. The budget includes a programmatic increase of $5.3 million for the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program and $2.2 million to support the recovery of gray wolf and Yellowstone grizzly bear. The request for the National Wildlife Refuge system is $394.8 million which is $13.1 million over the 2007 level. The Fisheries program is slated to receive $124.8 million, an increase of $10.1 million over the 2007 level.
Science for the Future: The budget includes $975.0 million for the U.S. Geological Survey, which provides the nation with high quality earth and biological science. This is an increase of $12.3 million over 2007 and reflects $16.3 million in program increases that will strengthen USGS efforts in support of key priorities, such as the Healthy Lands initiative, the Ocean Action Plan, natural hazards research and monitoring and the national Streamflow Information program.
Water and Power for Western Communities: The 2008 budget includes $958.4 million for the Bureau of Reclamation, the largest supplier of water in 17 western states, to develop, manage and protect water and related resources in an environmentally and economically sound manner. The budget includes $386 million to fund operation and maintenance activities at Reclamation facilities to ensure reliable water delivery and power generation and $430.0 million for water and energy, land and fish and wildlife resource management development activities. Water 2025 assistance would receive $11 million. The 2008 budget includes $1.0 million to develop and administer the Loan Guarantee program, which will provide a valuable tool to address aging water infrastructure. Major project funding includes: $77 million for the Dam Safety Program; $58 million for the Animas La Plata Project; $51.3 million for the Central Valley Project Restoration Fund; $35.5 million for site security at key facilities; $31.8 million for California Bay-Delta; $25 million for the Klamath Project; and $23.2 million for the Middle Rio Grande Project.
Minerals Management Service: The 2008 budget provides $161.5 million for MMS, an increase of $3.2 million over 2007. These appropriated funds along with $135.7 million in offsetting collections will allow the MMS to provide safe and clean development of needed ocean energy and ensure that the public receives the maximum benefit from America’s Outer Continental Shelf resources and mineral revenues. In 2008 MMS will be implementing the 2007 – 2012 Outer Continental Shelf Leasing Program. The budget increase of $5.3 million will facilitate deepwater development and the completion of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analyses for the 2008 lease sales.
Bureau of Land Management: The $1.8 billion request for BLM includes a $15.0 million increase to implement a new Healthy Lands Initiative and an increase of $3.1 million for oil and gas inspection and monitoring activities, which ensure that energy development is done in an environmentally sensitive way and that terms of energy-related permits are enforced. The budget includes a proposal to use receipts generated from the sale of the subsurface mineral estate for acquisition of easements and land to protect important resources. This proposal will help to support a goal to unify split estates with sales to current landowners.
The 2008 budget for BLM includes $801.8 for the wildland fire management program. The budget request includes an increase of $32.6 million for suppression and continues a robust program for hazardous fuels reduction.
Management Efficiency Improvements: The 2008 budget request includes $40.4 million in appropriated funding to continue deployment of the Department’s integrated business system, the Financial Business Management System. The system will replace more than two dozen separate legacy systems for budget, accounting and financial management. The request is an increase of $16.0 million over 2007. The 2008 budget will fund deployment to complex bureaus beginning with BLM. OSM and MMS are already operating their core accounting activities on FBMS.
By the Numbers
The 2008 budget request of $10.7 billion is nearly $450 million, or 4.4 percent, above the FY2007 continuing resolution when adjusted for the shift of Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Funds to a mandatory spending program. This includes $9.7 billion for programs funded in the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. That is an increase of $239.4 million or 2.5 percent above the continuing resolution and $100.7 million above the 2007 President’s budget. The FY2008 budget includes $214.2 in full funding for nondiscretionary fixed costs, including employee pay and benefits.
The request of the Bureau of Reclamation and the Central Utah Project, funded in the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act, is $1.0 billion. This request includes an increase of $78.5 million or 8.5 percent over the 2007 continuing resolution and $77.6 million above the President’s 2007 budget.
The 2008 budget reflects changes made in financing for State and tribal components of the Abandoned Mine Land program in the Office of Surface Mining. The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act Amendments of 2006 authorize a permanent funding stream for these programs and thus $134.2 million in State and tribal funding is no longer subject to appropriation
Permanent funding that becomes available as a result of existing legislation without further action by Congress will provide an additional $5.1 billion, for a total FY2008 Interior budget of $15.8 billion. The Department projects revenue collections of $15.6 billion in 2008, a record level that offsets Interior’s current budget authority by more than 1.5 to 1.
More detailed information is in the FY2008 Interior Budget in Brief which is available online at: http://www.doi.gov/budget/2008/08Hilites/toc.html.