Funding for entire endangered species program is less than the cost of a single F-35 fighter jet
FRISCO — The Obama administration talks a good green game, but when it comes to putting money toward endangered species protection, it’s business as usual. In fact, according to environmental watchdogs, the total amount of money allocated to endangered species is less than in 2016 when measured on a per-species basis.
That’s partly because 140 plants and animals have been added to the endangered species list in the past four years without an increase in spending, which means many conservation programs will underfunded once again this year.
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposed budget for endangered species is less than the government spends on a single F-35c fighter jet,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “As a nation, we have to put a higher priority on recovering endangered species. The meager increases proposed this week will make no difference to the hundreds of animals and plant species with little to no funding for their recovery. This is a travesty that needs to be fixed,” Greenwald said.
In a press release, the Center of Biological Diversity explained that, when adjusted for inflation, Obama’s proposed budget for the the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is essentially flat
The administration, for example, requested approximately $23 million to list and protect highly imperiled species under the Endangered Species Act — a small increase from last year, but roughly the same amount of funding received in 2010, even though hundreds of species are waiting for decisions about their protection.
The most recent expenditure report produced by the Fish and Wildlife Service covering 2013 shows that 68 percent of listed species received less than $100,000, nearly 60 percent received less than $50,000, and about 21 percent received less than $10,000.
Progress toward recovery is directly correlated with the availability of federal resources and dollars for recovery, and perpetually inadequate funding is limiting species recovery.
“The reality is that dozens of the nation’s most vulnerable plant and animal species receive less than $1,000 a year — just $3 per day — for their recovery,” said Greenwald. “We need a much stronger commitment from this president if he truly wants to recover our nation’s most endangered wildlife.”
The total budget proposal for the Fish and Wildlife Service, including wildlife refuges, fish hatcheries, migratory birds and endangered species was approximately $1.6 billion, an approximately $135 million dollar increase from last year’s spending levels.
However, most of the funding increases will not benefit endangered species. Most endangered species funding is contained within two newly proposed funding accounts that merge spending for both at-risk and Endangered Species Act-listed species among other ecological restoration activities.
Within this new framework, very little additional funding — potentially as little as $9 million — will reach currently listed species. In addition, the proposal reduces funding for the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund, the State and Tribal Wildlife Grant Program, and maintains funding for the Multinational Species Conservation Fund at reduced sequester levels.