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PF Encouraged by Support of Favorite Conservation Programs in Bush Budget Proposal

Bush Budget Includes Increase for the Conservation Reserve Program

St. Paul, Minn. – February 11, 2005 – Pheasants Forever (PF) supports the starting point for historically successful conservation programs as announced in President Bush’s budget earlier this week. In both the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) and U.S. Department of Interior’s proposed budgets for 2006 were increases to conservation programs beneficial to pheasants and a variety of other wildlife species; as well as soil, water, and air. Specifically, PF was pleased to see the President follow through on his August 2004 promise to continue the Conservation Reserve Program’s (CRP) wildlife legacy.

Within the USDA’s proposed budget were increases for three conservation programs with proven track records of improving water quality, preventing soil erosion, and creating wildlife habitat. First, CRP would see an increase of 4.1 percent to $2.02 billion. CRP has long been PF’s favorite program with a proven history of environmental and wildlife benefits, in addition to helping stabilize the income of farm families. Last August, the President directed the USDA to take action toward re-enrolling 22 million acres of CRP set to expire in 2007 and 2008, as well as move toward reaching a fully-enrolled program.

Also under the USDA’s budget, Wetlands Reserve Program (WRP) funding would increase from $275 million to $321 million. WRP is USDA’s most successful conservation program targeted at wetlands. The Wildlife Habitat Incentives Program (WHIP) would also see a slight increase to $60 million under the proposed Bush budget.

Details of the Department of Interior’s budget revealed a significant increase in funding for the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund, as well as an increase in funds for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program. Funding for the North American Wetlands Act was budgeted at $49.9 million, which represents a 33% increase. Likewise, the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program was budgeted at $52.2 million, an increase of 10%.

“These conservation programs have been a proven success for wildlife and the environment,” noted Howard Vincent, PF’s president and CEO. “Those successes, coupled with the strong demand for the programs from our nation’s farmers, ranchers, and landowners makes proper funding for these programs so important.”

“The budgeting and appropriations process can be difficult and this is especially true under the tight fiscal situation that exists,” added Vincent. “Having Presidential support of these important conservation programs is an excellent starting point for this budget process. We look forward to working with Congressional appropriators to maintain and strengthen these starting points.”

PF is a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to the protection and enhancement of pheasant and other wildlife populations in North America through habitat improvement, land management, public awareness, and education. Such efforts benefit landowners and wildlife alike. PF has more than 110,000 members in over 600 local chapters across the continent.

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