The Department of Interior is facing budget cuts of $1.6 billion. A summary of the proposed budget shows reductions in wildlife management while boosting funds for oil and gas development. Conservationists say this will have an effect here in Wyoming.
The proposed budget would reduce funding for endangered species, fisheries and wildlife management including almost $30 million less for sage grouse protection. It would also increase funds for programs ensuring oil and gas management while reducing permitting fees.
Wyoming Outdoor Council’s Chris Merrill said the Department of Interior is expected to reach a balance between wildlife conservation and energy development.
“You know you need to conserve values like wildlife habitat and recreation on the one hand and allow for development where it makes sense,” Merrill said, "but this proposed budget is all about development and not about the rest of that balance.”
Merrill adds now would be a good time to focus funding on wildlife preservation due to the downturn in oil and gas drilling.
“Especially when energy prices are so low. While there isn’t this great pressure to drill on public land, now is the time to set up wildlife and wildlife habitat for success,” he said.