House-Passed Bill Would Slash Funding For Columbia Bottomlands Forest

The House-passed bill would slash more than $60 billion dollars from the federal budget and would include deep cuts to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Money from the fund is used to buy up and preserve land for national parks, forests, and wildlife areas. If the bill is enacted, the program’s budget would be reduced by 90 percent. Brandt Mannchen is with the Sierra Club.

“This would not just be for Texas, but would be everywhere across the U.S. where we’re trying to buy important ecological, and biological, and scenic, and historic lands to add to our parks, national forest, and wildlife refuges.”

President Obama’s budget request sets aside $900 million dollars for the fund, $4 million of which would go to projects in the Columbia Bottomlands forest of San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge, just over an hour south of Houston.

“As far as I’m concerned it’s really the only significant coastal forest that we have. I mean, this forest comes within just a few miles of the Gulf of Mexico.”

Mannchen says the House bill would stop the funding and put those land acquisition projects in jeopardy.

“We’re concerned that this may begin a trend of no funding and ultimately lead to the fund being dry. Without these funds you can’t protect these areas and basically the critters and the habitat disappear.”

The current continuing resolution bill expires on Friday. Congress is currently discussing a short-term spending measure to avoid a government shutdown. That’ll give the Senate more time to negotiate the long-term continuing resolution bill.
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