Billions for Conservation, Restoration, Climate Included in 2023 Federal Budget Proposal

Earlier this week, the Biden administration released its fiscal year 2023 budget request for the federal government. Before we look at some of the proposed investments relating to fly fishing, understand that this is an incredibly complex process. What’s included in President’s budget request today will go through many revisions and iterations before a final budget is passed by congress and signed into law. That being said, there’s still a lot in this budget that would do great things for the country’s natural resources and outdoor recreation. Follow along for some key investments that will affect fly fishing…head to your favorite news outlet for non-fly fishing related budget analysis.

Five Key Investments

  • The budget request includes more than $407 million for Everglades restoration. This is a 16% increase from the $350 million invested into the Everglades from the FY2022 budget, which if you remember did not fund the most pressing project–the Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir. Max Chesnes of the TC Palm wrote, “If Congress approves the request, a “substantial amount” of the proposed Everglades money will go toward building the EAA reservoir, according to Michael Connor, assistant secretary of the Army for Civil Works.”
  • Climate change continues to be a focus to this administration, and that is reflected in the Budget. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the agency managing oceans and marine fisheries with a heavy reliance on science, requested $6.9 billion, an increase of $1.4 billion from last year’s budget. Looking at the entire budget request, “the President’s Budget for fiscal year 2023 invests $44.9 billion to tackle the climate crisis, an increase of nearly 60 percent over FY 2021.” This includes, “more than $18 billion to strengthen climate resilience and adaptation efforts across the Federal Government and protect communities from climate change impacts.” These funds should improve our understanding of climate change impacts, create climate-resilient fisheries, and work to mitigate the impacts.
  • The Department of the Interior, which oversees much of the nation’s public lands, highlighted a suite of positive investments. $1.5 billion for the Department’s Wildland Fire Management program to improve wildland firefighting capabilities, which represents a $237 million increase over the 2022 continuing resolution funding level. Also, the Department requested, $62.4 million for Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART programs to support a suite of water conservation, recycling and planning programs to help communities mitigate drought, increase water supply reliability, and improve water management.
  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requested $2 billion for FY23, a $388 million increase over the previous budget. This includes $597 million for the National Refuge system, which is a  15 percent increase over previous funding. National refuges are a great tool for conservation and support a great deal of hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation. Access with the National Refuge system has been expanded by both the Trump and Biden administrations. Additionally, the Service requested $200 million for restoring fish and wildlife passage and habitats by removing in-stream barriers and providing technical assistance under the National Fish Passage Program.

As noted earlier, this budget request is just that–a request. The budget process is an iterative, lengthy process that often experiences immense political pressures. So, while the final budget for FY 2023 may not look anything like this request or contain the above mentioned investments, it’s certainly a good sign seeing them included in the request. The conservation organizations that track the budget process closely seemed supportive with these initial investments and will continue advocating for a budget that reflects the importance of healthy watersheds, abundant fisheries, public lands, and more.

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