Washington Newsletter May 2011

posted May 3, 2011, 2:05 PM by Ken Carpenter   [ updated May 3, 2011, 2:12 PM ]

Federal Budget, FY 2011

By the skin of their teeth, the White House and the Congress agreed on a final federal budget for the last six months of this fiscal year (better late than never). In what could only be described as a Cinderella moment, a deal was struck only minutes before the fiscal coach was about to become a giant pumpkin. If that had happened, there would have been plenty of blame to go around.

Federal land agencies received a fiscal haircut as did most federal agencies. BLM received $18 million less than it received in FY 2010 and the Forest Service $6 million less. Also, the Land and Water Conservation Fund received a major cut of $123 million. This large reduction stemmed from concerns that the federal government does not have adequate resources to maintain those lands it already owns so it doesn't make sense to spend more money acquiring additional parcels of land. ARRA agrees with this logic.

Hold it on Wild Lands!

A surprise development coming out of the FY 2011 bargaining sessions was the decision to deny funding for the rest of FY 2011 for the implementation of Secretary Salazar's Wild Lands Initiative.

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Needed, Fairy Dust for FY2012

Sticking with the Cinderella theme, decision-makers in the Congress and at the White House are going to have to sprinkle a lot of fairy dust around if agreements are to be reached in raising the debt ceiling and passing the federal budget for FY2012. Both of these items are very controversial, especially in light of the mounting federal deficit. Almost daily, more Republicans and Democrats in the Congress are saying they will not vote for raising the debt ceiling unless further restrictions are placed on federal spending.

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Forest Service ♠

The May 16th deadline is fast approaching for the submission of comments on the draft Forest Service Planning Rule. Concern over the scope of the proposed draft continues to grow. In fact, sixty-five national organizations, ARRA being one of them, joined together to write the Administration with the request that the comment period be extended for an additional 90 days. Read the full letter...

H.R. 1581, Wilderness and Roadless Release Act of 2011

In last month's newsletter, we mentioned that Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-California, was going to introduce legislation that would authorize the release for multiple use purposes those wilderness study areas and roadless areas that had been determined by federal land agencies to be ineligible for wilderness designation. The release of these lands is a very important step in utilizing our federal lands for the benefit of all Americans.

Rep. McCarthy, along with 22 co-sponsors, introduced the bill, now identified as H.R. 1581, the Wilderness and Roadless Release Act of 2011, on April 15th. ARRA enthusiastically supports this legislation and we hope you will as well. If you haven't already written to your Representative urging support or even co-sponsorship, we encourage you to do so by accessing this link on the ARRA website.

Sincerely,

Larry E. Smith

Executive Director
Americans for Responsible Recreational Access
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