May 10, 2024

The Honorable Patty Murray
Committee on Appropriations
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Susan Collins
Vice Chair
Committee on Appropriations
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Tom Cole
Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Rosa DeLauro
Ranking Member
Committee on Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Re: Fiscal Year 2025 Funding Request for the Department of the Interior and U.S. Forest Service

Dear Chair Murray, Vice Chair Collins, Chair Cole, and Ranking Member DeLauro,

On behalf of the 52 undersigned groups, we write to request increased funding for the Department of the Interior (DOI) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) as you begin developing the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Fiscal Year (FY) 2025 Appropriations bill. We urge you and the Committee to meet or exceed the $18 billion requested for DOI and the $8.9 billion requested for USFS in the President’s FY25 Budget.

Managing over 480 million acres of land across the US, DOI and its agencies are essential for protecting public lands and waters, wildlife, and historic and cultural resources. USFS is responsible for 154 national forests and 20 national grasslands that cover more than 193 million acres of the National Forest System (NFS). Yet, both the Interior and the Forest Service remain underfunded and understaffed. Cuts across DOI, EPA, and USFS totaled $1.5 billion in FY24. Agency funding levels have not kept pace with the increase in demand, inflation, and other growing operational and maintenance needs. These shortages, coupled with spending caps from the Fiscal Responsibility Act, hinder agency capacity to advance commitments to clean energy projects, environmental protections, and environmental justice for all our communities. These budget caps cut non-defense discretionary spending to entirely inadequate funding levels, exacerbating agency constraints. We urge the full committee to offset these losses by maximizing the Interior and Environment subcommittee’s 302(b) allocation for FY25.

Over the last few years, DOI’s federal land management agencies have reported record high visitation to national monuments, parks, and wildlife refuges. A 2024 poll by Colorado College found, in 8 Mountain West states, 87% of respondents visited national public lands during 2023. The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) reports that wildlife refuges, via associated activities like hunting, fishing, wildlife watching, education, recreation, and photography, generate over $3.2 billion in economic activity and support 41,000 jobs annually – contributing millions in tax revenue. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) reported $31 million in revenue from recreation permits and pass fees for FY22. According to the National Park Service (NPS) visitors to national parks spent an estimated $23.9 billion in 2022, contributing an estimated 378,400jobs, $17.5 billion in labor income, $29 billion in value added, and $50.3 billion in economic output to the nation’s economy.

These agencies are critical for connecting communities to the outdoors and the benefits of nature. As these systems expand, however, they are being asked to do more with less. Funding levels for operations and maintenance remain stagnant leading to agency strain and staffing challenges. The BLM welcomes 82 million visitors annually while stewarding approximately 245 million surface acres and 700 million subsurface acres of public land, more than any land management agency, and is responsible for balancing multiple uses of those lands. BLM is tasked to balance these responsibilities while facing a significant backlog of conservation, restoration, and planning needs. FWS’ National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS) covers more than 856 million acres of land and water and had a record 68 million visits in FY23. Without dollars for adequate staffing, maintenance, or conservation planning, FWS cannot properly plan and manage conservation of these biodiverse habitats. In 2023, the NPS saw 325.5 million visitors across their 429 park units, 25 national scenic and national historic trails, and 66 wild and scenic rivers. These popular lands are in need of repair from climate events and increased visitation. Allocating at least $18 billion to DOI allows agencies to invest in the staffing required to maintain both the function and health of public lands.

Forest Service programs and projects improve water quality, increase the health of forest ecosystems, restore wildlife and fish habitat, and safeguard against wildfire risk. Managing NFS lands requires a continuous cycle of assessment, planning, implementation, and monitoring. However, USFS has experienced a downward funding trend for these activities, including ongoing efforts to amend or revise outdated land management plans and management of mature and old growth forests. We respectfully request the Forest Service be provided with at least $8.9 billion to implement these programs that can support ecological outcomes and sustain the natural resources, habitat, recreation opportunities, and clean air and water that the National Forest System provides.

These are just some examples of the vast, critical environmental work DOI and USFS perform while remaining chronically underfunded. Increased topline funding and investment in these agencies is paramount to understand, mitigate, and adapt to a changing climate and the impacts to our public lands and waters.

To this end, we respectfully urge you to maximize the Subcommittee’s allocation in order to meet or exceed the funding levels requested in the President’s FY25 Budget for the Department of the Interior, its agencies, and for the U.S. Forest Service. We also acknowledge the draconian limitations imposed by the FY25 budget caps and ask that you work to remove such caps in order to better provide for the agencies that perform the critical work upon which our communities depend. Thank you for your consideration of our request.


Alaska Wilderness League
American Hiking Society
American Rivers
American Sustainable Business Council
Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Back Country Horsemen of America
Bat Conservation International
California Environmental Voters
Californians for Western Wilderness
Christian Council of Delmarva
Clean Water Action
Coalition to Protect America's National Parks
Conservation Lands Foundation
Conservation Northwest
Creation Justice Ministries
Endangered Habitats League
Endangered Species Coalition
Environmental Law & Policy Center
Grand Canyon Trust
Great Old Broads for Wilderness
HECHO (Hispanics Enjoying, Camping,
Hunting, and the Outdoors)
Humane Action Pennsylvania
Humane Action Pittsburgh
Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Center
Latino Outdoors
League of Conservation Voters
Los Angeles Audubon Society
National Audubon Society
National Wildlife Federation
National Wolfwatcher Coalition
Natural Resources Defense Council
Nature for All
New Mexico Wild
North Country Trail Association
Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness
Northeastern Minnesotans for Wilderness
Oceanic Preservation Society
Resource Renewal Institute
Sierra Club
Silvix Resources
Soda Mountain Wilderness Council
Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance
The Mountain Pact
The Nature Conservancy
The Urban Wildlands Group
The Wilderness Society
Trust for Public Land
Vet Voice Foundation
Western Nebraska Resources Council
Wild Montana
Wyoming Untrapped


The Honorable Mike Simpson, Chair, U.S. House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies

The Honorable Chellie Pingree, Ranking Member, U.S. House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies

The Honorable Jeff Merkley, Chair, U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies

The Honorable Lisa Murkowski, Ranking Member, U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies