Against Congress’s instructions, The Trump administration has allegedly withdrawn funds for a huge, successful conservation project, the Guardian reports.
The program of Landscape Conservation Cooperatives supports funding for 22 research hubs that fight major environmental issues such as flooding, climate change, and species extinction. 16 of these cooperatives are currently on indefinite hiatus or have been dissolved.
“I just haven’t seen anything like this in my almost 30 years of working with the federal government,” said one Fish and Wildlife Service scientist who had previously worked at an LCC and asked to remain anonymous. “There is this lack of accountability.”
“Congress approved $12.5m for the existing 22 landscape conservation cooperatives,” said House interior-environment appropriations subcommittee chair Betty McCollum at a hearing with an official from the interior department. “[But] we are hearing disturbing reports from outside groups and concerned citizens that the LCC program is being altered and may not receive any federal funding.”
McCollum asked for a full outline of the situation for her committee to look in to.
The Obama administration established the LCCs in 2010. The staff comprised of Fish and Wildlife Service experts and appeared to be widely successful. A Hawaiian LCC identified an at-risk species of birds that had not previously been recognized as "threatened" and helped get it listed as such through the federal Endangered Species Act. An LCC also helped residents in flood-prone parts of the Gulf coast lower flood-insurance rates.
“No other federal program is designed to address landscape conservation needs at a national scale” besides the LCCs, a 2016 review from the National Academy of Sciences found.