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2015 funding bill reported for BLM, NPS and FWS

The House Committee on Appropriations officially reported a Department of Interior, Environment & Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, 2015 on Wednesday, July 23, 2014. The bill was placed on the Union Calendar as Calendar No. 41 for a House vote. No vote has yet been scheduled, though.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) would get a cut in funding for Recreation Management. The bill would appropriate $63.906 million for it, down $3.055 million from 2014 and $4.551 million below the president's budget request. The bill would also prohibit BLM from closing any more areas to recreational hunting and shooting.

The bill also would zero out funding for BLM's Youth in the Great Outdoors Initiative. But it would provide $3.464 million for the Challenge Cost Share Program, an increase of $1.051 million from 2014 but $115,000 below the administration's request. The committee report orders BLM to use the funds to support the goals of the Youth in the Great Outdoors Initiative, figuring the ends are better served with partnerships with the outdoor industry and public to build and maintain trails. Of the funding, $300,000 would go to outdoor ethics and stewardship training to help keep public lands open, especially when dealing with “high impact” activities such as shooting and off-road vehicle use.

Funding for the national wildlife refuges would get a slight increase: $476.865 million, up $4.663 million from 2014 and even $465,000 above the budget request. But the bill would clamp down on the Fish & Wildlife Service's ability to obtain new land without congressional approval.

The National Park Service (NPS) would also get an increase, $2.268612 billion, up $31.857 million. But the increase comes to $15.242 million less than what the administration wanted. The amount includes $30 million almost all of the increased funding, to help NPS celebrate its centennial in 2016. NPS would get three months to report to Congress on how it plans to use the centennial funds. And the bill includes funding to continue the summer concert series on the U.S. Capitol grounds next year.

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