U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced $50 million in approved funding to rebuild critical U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) infrastructure. The approved projects will repair and rehabilitate aging wildlife refuge and fish hatchery infrastructure that contribute to the $1.4 billion backlog facing the USFWS.
“The President is a builder, he loves to build and he loves our public lands, so it is a natural fit that the Trump administration is dedicating so much attention to rebuilding our aging Fish and Wildlife Service infrastructure. These approved projects are more than just line items on an Excel spreadsheet. For many sportsmen and women, National Wildlife Refuges are the only opportunities they have to hunt or fish,” said Secretary Zinke. “These projects have a tangible effect on a person’s experience when hunting, fishing or visiting a wildlife refuge. Today’s announcement is another step toward eliminating the $1.4 billion in maintenance facing our nation’s refuges and hatcheries. It’s another step toward prioritizing infrastructure because it is an investment that bolsters local economies. And it is another step in prioritizing access for all Americans to our public lands.”
The USFWS manages 566 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management areas and operates national fish hatcheries, fish technology centers and fish health centers. The agency is responsible for more than $46 billion in constructed real property assets that include more than 25,000 structures (e.g., buildings and water management structures) as well as nearly 14,000 roads, bridges and dams.
Secretary Zinke has made tackling Interior’s deferred maintenance backlog one of his top priorities. In April,he signed an memorandum of understanding committing Interior to follow President Trump’s One Federal Decision framework for processing of environmental reviews and permits for major infrastructure projects. In March, the Interior announced the Zinke’s partnership with Congress on a bipartisan bill to address rebuild and repair National Park Service infrastructure.