2004 Interior Budget Emphasizes Indian Trust Programs and Conservation Partnerships

U.S. Newswire

3 Feb, 2004
Press release, U.S. Dept. of the Interior

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2003/U.S. Newswire/ -- President Bush's proposed
FY 2004 budget of $10.7 billion for the Department of the Interior
provides dramatic funding increases for Indian trust programs and
expands opportunities for conservation partnerships. It also
enhances law enforcement and security for the Nation's monuments
and public lands and protects communities through increased funding
for fire management. Through a Water Initiative, the proposed
budget creates a foundation for innovations in water conservation,
water management, and improved technology.

"Fulfilling Interior's Trust responsibilities to American
Indians is a number one priority. Our proposed $168.5 million
increase for Trust management and related activities would bring
our annual Trust budget to over one-half billion dollars,"
Secretary Norton observed.

The proposed 2004 Interior budget also emphasizes Secretary
Norton's commitment to leaving a legacy of healthy lands and
thriving communities. "This budget underscores the President's
commitment to Interior's strategic missions of protecting natural
and cultural resources, serving communities, and providing
scientific information to decision makers," Secretary Norton said
in unveiling the budget proposal today.

"Preserving our natural resources, safeguarding communities from
the ravages of wildfire, and improving security and law enforcement
at our parks, refuges and national monuments are priority
initiatives in the 2004 funding request," Norton emphasized.

Key to achieving these goals is Secretary Norton's vision of
cooperative conservation. "Partnering across America, we can
broaden our successes to conserve America's natural, cultural, and
historic treasures," Secretary Norton noted. "Our $113.2 million
Cooperative Conservation Initiative, which invests in several
conservation grant programs, will help us extend a hand to work
with the Nation's many citizen stewards."

Complementing the Department's cooperative conservation
commitments is a continued investment in taking care of National
Parks. The President's 2004 budget request proposes $705.8 million
to fulfill the President's pledge of addressing the maintenance
backlog in the parks. It also requests $8.5 million more funding
for the Natural Resource Challenge, bringing the cumulative total
increase to the program under President Bush's leadership to over
$104 million.

"Building partnerships lies at the heart of all these efforts,"
said Secretary Norton. "Interior's strength lies in its 70,000
employees, 200,000 volunteers, and the many partnerships we are
building with States, Tribes, local governments, affiliated Island
communities, nonprofit organizations, and citizen stewards. Our
budget provides the tools through which these partnerships can
flourish," Norton said.

The FY 2004 proposal of $10.7 billion is about 25 percent higher
than the 2000 appropriations level of $8.6 billion, and represents
an increase of $344 million, or 3.3 percent, over the amounts
called for in the President's 2003 budget request. Permanent
funding that becomes available as a result of existing legislation
without further action by the Congress will provide an additional
$3 billion, for a total 2004 Interior budget of $13.7 billion.

Reflecting the Department's multiple missions, the budget
proposes $2.6 billion for resource protection to fund programs that
improve the health of landscapes, sustain biological communities,
and protect cultural resources.

The budget proposal also includes $5 billion to serve
communities through fire protection, generation of scientific
information, education investments for American Indians, and
through activities to fulfill responsibilities toward American
Indians, Alaskan natives, and the nation's affiliated island

Interior lands include many working landscapes where ranchers,
energy partners, and other entrepreneurs help maintain thriving
American communities and a dynamic economy. The 2004 proposed
budget includes $1.5 billion for resource use, providing access to
these resources and advancing the President's National Energy Plan.

An $11 million Water Initiative would invest in desalination
technology, water-saving technologies for irrigation systems, and
strategies to improve water management. "No challenge in the 21st
Century is greater than that of securing and managing water for our
future," said Secretary Norton. "Our Water Initiative will help us
stretch existing water supplies."

Another $1.4 billion in FY 2004 budget investments would improve
access to recreational opportunities. This request includes a $5.2
million increase to the Bureau of Land Management, host of more
than 60 million visitors annually, to provide recreational venues
for a growing population in the West.

Following are major initiatives in the 2004 budget proposal:

Trust Programs -- "Fulfilling our Trust responsibilities remains
one of our greatest challenges," Norton said. "We inherited a
legacy of inadequate management of Trust accounts. We propose major
investments to reverse that legacy. And, going forward, we need to
create a more manageable Trust portfolio by consolidating lands,
where feasible. Our budget lays the groundwork for this better

The proposed $168.5 million increase for management reforms will
help the Department meet its trust obligations to Tribes and
individual Indians. This increase improves services to Tribes and
individual Indians with $15 million to support reorganization of
trust functions, providing an organization that meets fiduciary
standards, is accountable at every level, and staffed with people
trained in the principles of trust management.

Another $29.5 million will help rebuild Bureau of Indian Affairs
information technology infrastructure to support trust and
non-trust programs; and $4.5 million will accelerate a new strategy
to administer, manage, search, retrieve, and store trust records.

An increase of $112.5 million for the Office of Historical Trust
Accounting will support the Department's plan to conduct a
historical accounting for individual Indian money accounts and to
account for funds in Tribal accounts. An additional $13 million for
Indian land consolidation will expand pilot efforts to reduce the
fractionation of individual land ownership interests into a
nation-wide program.

Indian Education -- The budget request includes $292.6 million
in school construction funds for seven replacement school projects,
and to repair schools identified in the Indian school maintenance
backlog. The President's goal is to eliminate the backlog by 2006.
The budget request for Indian education continues the President's
commitment to Leave No Child Behind with a robust $528.5 million
school operations budget request.

Cooperative Conservation -- "Our budget lays the foundations for
leaving a legacy of healthy lands and thriving communities,"
Secretary Norton announced. "Our request presents a blueprint for
fulfilling the President's vision of a new environmentalism of
citizen stewards and cooperative conservation. We are again
proposing this Initiative, structuring it around our bureau
Challenge Cost Share programs and our cooperative conservation
grant programs."

The Cooperative Conservation Initiative, funded at $113.2
million, will empower citizen stewards to conserve and protect
natural resources while also achieving important community and
economic goals. The Initiative builds on existing conservation
partnership programs and will provide new and expanded
opportunities for landowners, land managers, and others to
participate in projects that foster innovation and create
incentives for stewardship and also provides funds for a public
lands volunteers program.

Included in the CCI request is an increase of $9.1 million for
the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program, the largest increase
ever provided to this program. The Fish and Wildlife Service will
partner with 2,500 additional landowners on the program's waiting
list. These new partnerships will restore an additional 19,298
acres of wetlands; 83,601 acres of native grasslands, forest and
other uplands; and 241 miles of riparian and in-stream habitat over
2003 levels.

Land and Water Conservation Fund-The President's budget fully
funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900.7 million. The
LWCF proposal calls for $187.2 million for federal land acquisition
in Interior and the USDA Forest Service and $160 million in
traditional state grants (an increase of $10 million over FY 2003
budget proposal). Reflecting the President's goals, the Interior
LWCF program seeks to promote cooperative alliances, leave land on
state tax roles, and achieve conservation goals by emphasizing
innovative alternatives to fee simple title purchases, such as
conservation easements and land exchanges. This emphasis also
enables Interior land management agencies to focus more funds on
caring for lands already under their management.

The LWCF budget includes $553.5 million for innovative
conservation programs, including state and tribal wildlife
projects, endangered species and wetlands conservation, USDA forest
stewardship and urban and community forestry, private landowner
stewardship and incentive grants as well as the Secretary's
Cooperative Conservation Initiative.

The Private Stewardship grants and the Landowner Incentive
Program recognize continuing opportunities for conservation of
endangered and threatened species through partnerships with private
landowners. The budget request includes $50 million for Private
Stewardship grants and the Landowner Incentive program. Interest in
the State portion of the program is high, with over 80 grant
requests received, totaling $61.0 million for the program's first

Natural Resource Challenge -- An $8.5 million increase is
requested for the fifth year of the NPS Natural Resource Challenge.
This program enhances monitoring of natural resources; helps
eradicate exotic species; and provides natural resources
information for the public. Beginning with the 2002 budget, the
President has requested a cumulative total of $104.5 million for
the Natural Resource Challenge.

NPS Backlog -- The President's budget proposes a $2.4 billion
budget for the National Park Service, an increase of $8.3 million
above the President's FY 2003 proposal that also maintains a
historically high commitment of $705.8 million to address the
maintenance backlog in the parks. The budget requests an additional
$9 million for cyclic maintenance. This increase will provide
additional funds for regular maintenance activities and will help
the NPS keep pace with its maintenance needs and prevent additional
projects from becoming deferred.

The budget includes an additional $8.2 million for the repair
and rehabilitation program, including a $2.6 million increase for
comprehensive condition assessments at parks. Data collected
through the condition assessments will be used in 2004 to evaluate
progress in eliminating the deferred maintenance backlog.

Refuge Centennial -- March 14, 2003 marks a milestone in the
history of wildlife conservation in America-the Centennial
anniversary of the national wildlife refuge system. The 2004 budget
builds on last year's historic $56.5 million budget increase for
the national wildlife refuge system by requesting a total of $402.0
million for refuge operations and maintenance, an increase of $25.5
million over 2003. The total budget request for the Fish and
Wildlife Service is $1.3 billion.

Invasive Species -- The Department is participating in an
interagency performance budget on invasive species coordinated by
the National Invasive Species Council. The performance budget links
spending levels with levels of performance. The 2004 budget
proposes $9 million for the Department's portion in this
interagency effort. The increase will allow Interior to participate
in the control and management of tamarisk and giant slavinia in the
southwest; to conduct ballast water research; to control and
eradicate nutria in the Chesapeake Bay and in Louisiana; to plan
for early detection and rapid response to eradicate outbreaks of
sudden oak death in eastern hardwood forests of the Central
Appalachian Mountains; and to develop a marine invasive species
early detection warning system.

Conserving America's Fisheries -- The 2004 budget enhances the
federal contribution to aquatic resource conservation partnerships,
by providing an $8.8 million increase for the FWS fisheries
program. The request includes an $8.1 million increase for the
national fish hatchery system for priority recovery and restoration
tasks; increasing fishing opportunities for the public; and
advancing shared applied science. Also included is a $1 million
increase to combat aquatic nuisance species, part of the larger,
coordinated interdepartmental effort.

Office of Surface Mining: The President's budget request for OSM
would allocate $281.2 million in FY 2004 for state and federal
programs to protect the environment during coal mining, assure
prompt reclamation after mining, and clean up abandoned mine lands.
This is $1.8 million more than the amount budgeted for FY 2003. The
2004 request includes $106.7 million for the Regulation and
Technology Account and $174.5 million for the Abandoned Mine Land
Account. The request will enable OSM to continue directly
administering federal regulatory and reclamation programs in states
that do not operate their own surface mining programs as well as on
federal and Indian lands.

Healthy Forests/Wildland Fire -- "Through partnerships we are
enhancing our fire program," Secretary Norton said. "Building a
legacy of healthy lands and thriving communities means applying a
healing hand to the landscape. We are doing that through our
Healthy Forests Initiative."

The budget proposes $698.7 million for wildfire prevention and
suppression and Healthy Forest initiatives in fiscal year 2004, a
$45 million-or 7 percent-increase over last year's budget proposal.
The request includes continued funding for a robust fuels treatment
program at $186.2 million-400 percent above spending in 2000-to
lessen the risk of catastrophic wildfire. The proposal also calls
for $282.7 million for fire preparedness, including an increase of
$5 million for aviation contract costs; $195.3 million for fire
suppression; $24.5 million for rehabilitating burned areas; and $10
million for Rural Fire Assistance.

Law Enforcement -- The budget calls for increases of $46.2
million for Interior's law enforcement and security programs. The
money would be used to hire additional personnel, provide more
training, improve law enforcement operations in border areas and
key visitor sites, and fund security construction projects. About
$26.8 million is slated for infrastructure improvements at the
Jefferson National Expansion Area in St. Louis, Mo.; Independence
National Historical Park in Philadelphia, Pa.; and the Washington
Monument in Washington, D.C.; $13.3 million is earmarked for
strengthening law enforcement and security operations at key
Interior visitor sites; and $6 million would be used to increase
protection and law enforcement at Interior parks along U.S. borders
with Mexico and Canada.

Science and Stewardship: All of the Department's efforts require
good information. Scientific information is the cornerstone for
Interior's natural resource management activities, providing a
basis for making decisions about resource protection, resource use,
recreation, and community-based programs. The USGS has the
principle responsibility within Interior to provide its bureaus the
earth and natural science information and research necessary to
manage the Nation's natural resources.

The President's 2004 budget proposes $895.5 million for the
USGS, a net increase of $28.2 million over the FY 2003 request.
That includes a $4.1 million increase to expand invasive species
research and develop a model for a national early warning invasive
species detection network for land managers. It also includes a $3
million increase for the Science on the DOI Landscape initiative to
provide dedicated funds for enhanced science support to Interior's
bureaus to meet their high-priority science needs.

Western Water -- Including the special $11 million water
initiative, our budget proposes $878 million for the Bureau of
Reclamation, including $58 million for the Animas-La Plata Project;
$170.1 million for the Central Valley Project; $20.8 million for
the Klamath Project; $34.1 million for Central Arizona Project:
$17.4 million for the Middle Rio Grande Project; and $15 million
for the California Bay-Delta Restoration Project.

Energy Development -- The 2004 budget request includes a net
increase of $3.6 million for BLM energy-related programs, including
expanded energy development on the Alaska North Slope. The increase
will help support the development of renewable energy on public
lands and accelerate the processing of applications for

The budget for the Minerals Management Service proposes a
program increase of $4.8 million to meet increased workload brought
about by the demand for Outer Continental Shelf program services,
to employ innovative business processes and advances in electronic
technology in the offshore program, and to investigate the energy
resource potential found in methane hydrate formations. The MMS
will also invest $3 million to operate and maintain its minerals
revenue management and royalty-in-kind systems.

The 2004 BIA request includes a $2 million increase for grants
to Tribes to evaluate mineral resource potential on tribal trust
and restricted lands. The request also includes $1 million to help
Tribes expedite the development of tribal regulations governing
mineral leasing and permitting, and rights-of-way of tribal lands
required under the Energy Policy Act, 2002.

Recreation -- The 2004 request includes a number of investments
in BLM, NPS, and FWS programs to improve access to Interior lands
and enhance recreational opportunities and experiences at parks,
refuges, and on public lands, while protecting vital natural and
cultural resources. A net increase of $5.2 million will enable BLM
to provide quality recreation opportunities and will enhance public
health and safety for the growing number of outdoor enthusiasts who
utilize BLM administered lands for a variety of purposes.

Payment in Lieu of Taxes -- The President's proposal calls for
$200 million to compensate states for federal lands that cannot be
taxed by local governments, an increase of $35 million over the
proposed 2003 budget. The FY 2004 budget proposal would move the
program from BLM to Department Management accounts to reflect the
fact that the lands on which the payments are made are administered
by the NPS, FWS, and USDA Forest Service, as well as by the Bureau
of Land Management.

Summary -- "Our ability to leave a legacy of healthy lands and
thriving communities depends on how well we work together across
landscapes and across communities," Secretary Norton noted as she
set forth the Department's 2004 proposed budget. "Our 2004 budget
provides a blueprint and lays the foundations for those


Contact: Frank Quimby of the U.S. Department of the Interior,


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