Trump signs executive order to end the grasslands program
President Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday that rescinds the Forest Service’s plan to end its program of restoring and conserving the iconic Great Plains, an action that is expected to have a major impact on a large swath of the United States.
The executive order, titled “Protecting the Great Plains and its Wildlands,” directs the Forest and Water Conservation Fund to “reduce, as appropriate, the funding, authority, and responsibilities of the Forest service, including its operations and programs.”
It also directs the Secretary of Agriculture to create a national grasslands restoration initiative.
It calls for $1.3 billion in federal funding to be made available to the Forest, the largest federal program of its kind in the United State.
It also calls for a $100 million program to preserve and restore the Great Basin, the world’s second-largest grasslands.
“We are proud to announce today that we have a historic opportunity to restore a land that was once part of our heritage and to help protect our heritage, the great plains, and the natural resources that surround them,” the president said.
“The Great Plains Restoration Program was created to preserve this land and help us protect our beautiful land, the Great Lakes, and their wildlife and habitat.
It was a vital part of the American landscape from its very beginning and now it is no longer.”
The executive action is a major blow to the federal government’s efforts to restore and conserve the Great, and it could have a large impact on the region’s economy, according to experts.
“This is an important first step in protecting and conservating the Great Land, and to ensure that we can continue to protect the land and its resources for future generations,” said Chris Gonsalves, a professor of land and resource policy at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and author of the book “The Wildlands: The New Geography of the Greats.”
“We’re very grateful to President Trump for this action, because it sends a clear signal that he understands that restoring the Great Lands will be an integral part of a comprehensive strategy for preserving our country’s natural and cultural heritage.”
The president’s executive order was signed by Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.
The executive order also directs that the Forest maintain a $5 million annual fund to support grassland restoration and conservation activities, and that the Secretary develop a plan to ensure the funding is directed towards restoration activities that will help maintain the integrity of the grassland and its natural resources.
“The Forest service has made a strong commitment to restoring the lands of the region and working with federal, state, and local governments to restore their ecosystems,” Zinke said in a statement.
“Today’s action sends a strong message to the Congress that the restoration of the country’s historic and cultural lands is critical to the future of our nation and our people.
We have a lot to be proud of.
We can’t afford to lose it.”
The Forest Service announced in 2014 that it was discontinuing the Great Grasslands Restoration Program after nearly three decades, saying the program would be phased out over five years.
The program has been funded by the National Park Service, but funding is currently being provided by the Department of Agriculture.