Dangerous Cuts To Public Lands Will Hurt Jobs, Economy

Business for Montana’s Outdoors expressed extreme concern in response to the President’s budget blueprint that includes deep cuts to public lands programs including across the board cuts at the Department of Interior and USDA.

“We are deeply concerned that this budget fails to recognize the economic benefit our public lands provide – these cuts will directly impact Montana jobs and our businesses”, said Marne Hayes, Business for Montana’s Outdoors executive director. “There may be agencies that are bloated and inefficient, but our National Parks, the Forest Service and the Department of Interior have a strong track record of being good stewards for the benefit of our businesses and communities. We urge President Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to reconsider this budget, and we ask Montana’s Congressional delegation to fight for smart investments in public lands that support Montana jobs.” 

According to Business for Montana’s Outdoors’ analysis of the budget, some of the most troubling cuts include: 

- Massive cuts to the popular, bipartisan Land and Water Conservation Fund. The proven program does not use taxpayer dollars and invests royalties from off-shore oil leases in building fishing access sites, trails and other projects proven to bolster communities and local economies. 

- Nearly $5 billion in cuts to the United States Department of Agriculture, a 21% decrease in funding over last year, which could lead to less forest management, trail maintenance, and recreational opportunities. 

-$1.3 billion in cuts to the Interior Department’s annual budget, which could lead to steep cuts facing our National Parks, which are already buried in a massive infrastructure backlog.

The fiscal blueprint, released by the Trump Administration today, does not offer line-by-line spending or revenue projections. A more detailed budget outline is expected to be released in May. Prior to Secretary Zinke’s confirmation hearing in the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Business for Montana’s Outdoors asked him to sign a pledge dedicated to Montana’s outdoor values, which included securing robust and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Adequate levels of funding for public lands are crucial for Montana's economy. A new study shows that over the last four decades, western rural counties adjacent to federal lands have outperformed their rural counterparts in other areas of the country in four key economic indicators including higher employment and personal income growth.

According to the Outdoor Industry Association, Montana’s outdoor economy generates $1.5 billion in wages and salaries, $5.8 billion in consumer spending, $403 million in state and local tax revenue, and supports 64,000 jobs. Business for Montana’s Outdoors includes 130 businesses responsible for more than 3,500 Montana jobs.

Marne Hayes