Congress approves FY2022 spending package that supports conservation

Last week Congress approved a $1.5 trillion FY2022 omnibus spending package to fund the federal government through Sept. 30.  The Nature Conservancy engages deeply on advocacy for federal conservation funding, and we’re pleased to see the solid investments for conservation, climate resilience, and clean energy included in this bill.

The bill passed with bipartisan support in both the U.S. House and the Senate.  All members of our Washington congressional delegation voted “Yes.” As we take stock of what’s in the bill and other recent spending in the 2021 Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act (IIJA), we see encouraging investments that will boost conservation efforts in every corner of the state.

Here are a few highlights from the FY2022 spending bill:

Puget Sound

Puget Sound recovery will receive an increase in funding this year through a combination of regular budget appropriations and the infrastructure bill. Combined, these two bills will provide $52 million for recovery actions — a 54% increase over last year. Read more about this work coordinated by the Puget Sound Partnership and the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.

Barnum Point on Camano Island looks out over Port Susan Bay in Puget Sound, Washington. © Benj Drummond

Forests and Fire

Federal funding is critical to address forest health and wildfire resilience in the dry forests of Central and Eastern Washington.  One especially important program is the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLR), which received a doubling of funding — from $14 million to $28 million. We’re hopeful that this program will fund a large proposal put forward recently by collaborative partners for the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest.

Roslyn Fuels Reduction Project

U.S. Rep Kim Schrier worked with community partners in Kittitas County to secure $750,000 for a wildfire resilience project in the Roslyn area. A portion of the funds will support TNC’s forest restoration efforts on Cle Elum Ridge. We look forward to working with the City of Roslyn and the Kittitas Fire Adapted Communities Coalition to implement this important work over the next year.    

Kachess Lake from Amabilis Mountain. Land to be protected with Land and Water Conservation Fund. Photo © TNC

Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)

Good news for land conservation! LWCF received full funding of $900 million, the annual amount guaranteed as a result of the Great American Outdoors Act’s passage in 2020.  These funds support projects all over to the country to increase recreation access, build climate resilience, protect drinking water and conserve critical habitat.  We’re happy to see the Washington Cascades project get $2.4 million which will fund permanent protection of 1,280 acres of forest land near Kachess Lake in Kittitas County.

Environmental Justice

The spending bill includes $100 million for environmental justice initiatives (an increase of $83 million over last year). Funding will support grants to overburdened communities and will bolster the Environmental Protection Agency’s work to integrate environmental justice into its existing programs, including clean air, clean water, toxic chemicals and waste management.

Wind turbines in Kittitas Valley near Ellensburg. Photo by Cameron Karsten/TNC.

Climate & Clean Energy

The bill provides $3.2 billion, an increase of $338 million over 2021, for U.S. Department of Energy clean energy projects. While this is good news, we need Congress to enact a much larger package of clean energy investments in order to meet our international climate commitments and protect the most vulnerable from the impacts of climate change.

Stay tuned. We’ll be sure to post updates on this blog about all of these programs and how they’re making a difference for nature and people in Washington state.

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