As part of its anti-environment agenda, the Trump administration has directly contradicted orders from Congress by cutting funding for a successful national conservation program.
The Guardian reported Monday that numerous scientists and employees of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) say President Donald Trump unilaterally slashed funding for a program put in place by the Obama administration in 2010 called Landscape Conservation Cooperatives (LCCs).
The president's actions were denounced as "disheartening and short-sighted" by one critic on social media.
Another disheartening and short-sighted step for this administration. https://t.co/pstSBAyTMc
— David Veech (@davidveech) April 8, 2019
Your water, your air, your food... pay attention, America-->
Trump administration sabotages major conservation effort, defying Congress https://t.co/X9H6dpwJ2j
— Ann Telnaes (@AnnTelnaes) April 8, 2019
Funding for the cooperatives, which cost about $12.5 million per year to operate, was written out of the budgets the president has submitted to Congress each year—but lobbying by native tribes and green groups helped convince lawmakers to approve the funding.
As a result, employees of the LCCs have been stunned to see the organizations shut down entirely or go on indefinite hiatus as the Trump administration has gone over legislators' heads to cut the LCCs off.
"I just haven't seen anything like this in my almost 30 years of working with the federal government," one anonymous FWS employee told the Guardian. "I'd say there could be five to six years [of work] down the drain."
The nation's 22 LCCs have recorded numerous successes since they were established nine years ago to research the climate crisis, species endangerment, threats to wildlife habitats, and communities vulnerable to extreme weather events.
On LCC in Hawaii made sure a native bird as would be listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act, due to habitat destruction, while another helped residents in flood-prone areas to obtain flood insurance discounts.
The Congress for American Indians told lawmakers in 2017 that LCCs "have played an important role in advancing western science and traditional knowledge with our local communities that are continually struggling to adapt to increasingly unpredictable and dangerous environments due to climate change."
On social media, Noah Greenwald of the Center for Biological Diversity's Endangered Species program said the rollback of LCC funding provides more confirmation that "Trump doesn't care about anything but his own hotels and golf courses."