A national coalition representing multiple interests has sent a letter highlighting several areas that need to be addressed in the reconciliation package. The coalition includes agricultural organizations, water agencies, and environmental and conservation groups. Several funding priorities to help mitigate the impact of drought conditions and issues of wildfire were pointed out in the letter.
“While the bipartisan infrastructure package provides significant resources, funding gaps remain in areas critical for historic drought and wildfire that currently grip the West. Additional resources are necessary to improve the long-term management and resilience of water resources and the natural environment amongst changing climate and hydrological conditions,” the letter states. “We need your help to ensure that federal investment and timely improvements are made to our water management portfolio.”
The letter was addressed to Congressional leadership as the reconciliation package continues to be discussed. Requests made in the letter include specific funding needs for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of the Interior. The coalition is calling for a doubling of funding for the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service program. A total of $30 billion is being requested to allow USDA’s Forest Service to improve overall forest conditions and address wildfire risk. The group is also calling for $1.5 billion to be invested in emergency drought response activities. Another $170 is being sought to allow the DOI to better manage water.
Signatories of the letter include the California Farm Bureau Federation, Western Growers, the Association of California Water Agencies, and the Family Farm Alliance. The coalition also points out that increased federal investment to improve water management will help to enhance disadvantaged communities. “A vigorous water and environmental investment portfolio with multiple aspects- as we suggest above- would go a long way toward helping the short and long-term stability of these communities,” the coalition states in the letter.