The Department of the Interior, in its entirety, requested approximately $10.7 billion, coupled with permanent funding through current legislation of $5.1 billion, the total 2008 budget for Interior would be $15.8 billion. The request, according to the Interior budget documents, is in excess of $317.8 million (3.7 percent) over the 2007 request and $250.4 million (2.3 percent) less than the enacted funding level for FY 2006, exclusive of supplemental appropriations. Priorities for Interior in terms of funding include: serving communities and services to Tribes; the wildland fire program; law enforcement; resource protection and improved health of watersheds; recreation and improved access to recreational opportunities; resource use and the ability to help provide energy security for the country; and management excellence.

Within the Department of the Interior, the National Parks Service (NPS) would see roughly a $250 million budget increase if the administration's plan is implemented, although many other Department of the Interior agencies would not receive robust budget increases. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) would receive $975 million, roughly two million less than what was appropriated for fiscal year 2007.

Within the USGS budget, biological research and monitoring would receive $143 million, an increase of roughly 3 million over FY 2007 and 2006 funding levels, of which $5 million would be allocated for the Healthy Lands Initiative, an initiative in the 2008 budget that "will expand cooperative conservation efforts to help restore nearly half a million acres of western land that hosts world-class wildlife habitat and energy resources and provides major economic benefits to local communities." Also within Biological Research, Cooperative Research Units would receive $62.3 million, approximately $450,000 less than 2006 enacted funding levels and Biological Information Management would receive $22 million roughly $1million one million less than 2006 enacted levels. Some additional increases to the USGS budget for 2008 include $3 million for the Ocean Action Plan. Of the $3 million, $1.5 million will be allocated for sea floor mapping in conjunction with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The remaining $1.5 million will be allocated for the national water-quality monitoring network.

Finally, increases in the FY 2008 USGS budget include $4.7 million to repair and rehabilitate several buildings at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Refuge. The 2008 budget would reduce funding for minerals research and the cooperative water programs as well as lower funding for priority ecosystem science, including mammalian population ecology and habitat programs, by $2 million.

The USGS budget for FY 2008 does include a proposed increase of $24 million to fund fixed cost escalations, expenses that are unavoidable in the short term (unemployment compensation and government-wide pay changes).

USGS director Mark Myers, addressing a group of individuals representing the USGS Coalition, various agencies within the Interior, and other organizations concerned about the Survey, said that although USGS did not fare as well as the NPS, he sees it as a neutral budget valuing science. Significantly, the budget request remains well below the $1.2 billion recommended by the USGS Coalition for the past two years.

Also within the Department of the Interior, the Fish and Wildlife Service, according to budget documents, requested $1.3 billion. Of the $1.3 billion, the request included $1.03 billion for Resource Management, which is $25 million more than the 2007 enacted level passed by the Senate. The National Wildlife Refuge System would receive an increase of $12 million over the 2006 enacted level, although fisheries and aquatic resources would receive an $8 million increase over the 2006 enacted funding level.

 


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