Predator, conservation district dollars back in budget
Cheyenne – According to House Ag Committee Chair Frank Philp of Shoshoni, funds for Wyoming’s predator boards and the state’s conservation districts have been put back in the budget.
Governor Dave Freudenthal, in his budget recommendations, had included $3 million of a $6 million request for the state’s local predatory animal boards. The monies are distributed through the state-level Animal Damage Management Board and were first approved during the last biennium.
“I got $2.7 million back in,” says Philp noting the $300,000 for administration was left out due to questioning from some committee members.
Philp says the funds provide broader benefits than most people realize. “A lot of that money goes for wildlife protection. They’ve done several projects to see what effect predator control has on fawn recruitment for deer and antelope. In most cases they’ve seen an improvement.” He also points out projects to aid Bighorn Sheep in the Dubois area.
When state-level funds were first established many of the state’s local predator boards were on the brink of having to cease operations. Around 20 boards have participated in the state-level program implementing projects intended to benefit both livestock and wildlife.
Funding for conservation districts water monitoring and watershed planning efforts was also placed back in the budget. “I think they see how important it is,” says Philp of water quality work, “and the constraints that come with having waters listed as impaired.” In the absence of the funds Wyoming will lose one of its two watershed planning coordinators. Each of the coordinators travel about 40,000 miles a year helping Wyoming communities with locally-driven watershed planning efforts.
Philp says additional work will be needed on the floor of the legislature to keep the funds in place. “We’re not as flush as we’ve been in other years.” He says it’s important that those who support such funding contact their legislators.
When JAC finished its budget work two years ago Philp says there was around $100 million remaining compared to $52 million this year. “In various bills,” he says, “there’s about $430 million. A lot of those will have to go by the wayside or we’ll have to spend our savings.”
Jennifer Womack is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.