Yesterday, the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing in Washington, DC on the President’s FY 2016 Budget Request for the Fish and Wildlife Service.  As one the partners of the LCCs, Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe testified at the hearing where he talked about the importance of LCCs, and the good work being done in the Southeastern states by conservation partners. Here are his remarks on LCCs:

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The budget request includes $69.7 million, an increase of $12.2 million above the 2015 enacted level, for landscape level science and conservation.  Global and national conservation challenges such as development pressure, climate change, resource extraction, wildfire, drought, invasive species and changing ocean conditions require an unprecedented effort to better understand threats and inspire coordinated action to address them.

“The President’s request for the Service includes an important increase for Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs).  The budget requests an increase of about $8 million for LCCs and Adaptive Science over the fiscal year 2015 appropriation.  LCCs are at their core voluntary, non-regulatory collaborations with States, Tribes, and others stakeholders.  Together, we work at the large landscape scale, identify common priorities, invest in the science needed to make smart conservation decisions, and then work together to meet our shared goals.  The growing commitment to the LCCs by our partners is demonstrated by the formal participation of over 270 organizations on LCC committees and the increasing leveraging of resources.

“Partners are now calling upon LCCs to take on larger roles.  For example, LCCs are working with 15 Southeastern States to facilitate the development of a shared conservation vision.  The effort is identifying the areas that are most important for wildlife in the Southeastern United States, allowing all partners to coordinate conservation investments and leverage resources into the future.  Similarly, at the request of Northeastern States, LCCs are knitting together multiple state wildlife action plans into a single regional conservation strategy.  LCC investments are also prioritizing fish passage projects across the Great Lakes, ensuring that native fish can move into historical spawning grounds while minimizing the likelihood that invasive species expand their range.  In addition, LCCs are working with partners in the West to understand the impacts of invasive species and fire management on wildlife and develop strategies to keep native wildlife healthy.  Providing funding at fiscal year 2016 request level will position LCCs to meet these conservation priorities and many others identified collaboratively with our partners.”