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  Saturday November 1st, 2014    

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Letís end the sequester budget cuts (05/01/2013)
From: Todd Paddock

When flights were delayed because of furloughed air traffic controllers, it was big news and congress reacted immediately to provide money. But that left tens of millions of people still suffering from the sequester, because virtually every federal agency has been cut by 8-10% and those cuts are causing real harm.

Children are denied Head Start, seniors arenít receiving Meals on Wheels, small business owners and farmers arenít receiving loans, and recently deployed veterans remain jobless. Thatís just scratching the surface.

Other effects that hit close to home are the cutsí impacts at the Upper Mississippi National Wildlife and Fish Refuge and the Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge.

The cuts have forced the single Ranger at each Refuge office to lead fewer trips and offer fewer programs during evening and weekend hours. Separately, the La Crosse Office wonít hire a second Ranger as planned. As a result, the new visitor center in Onalaska and the Trempealeau Refuge visitor center have reduced their hours. Fewer children will learn about the out-of-doors, fewer people will use the Refuges, and fewer tourists will support our local economy.

The cuts mean the three offices will together hire three summer employees rather than 15. At the Trempealeau Refuge, seasonal workers every year battle one of the biggest habitat threats that Refuge faces: invasive plants and trees. But this year no summer workers will be hired and those species will go unchecked. In addition, most of the summer workers are college students, recent graduates, or recently deployed veterans. The experience, skills, and contacts they gain from this seasonal work can be critical. But weíre shutting the door on them.

The Refuges are economic drivers: every federal dollar invested in them returns at least $10 to our local economies just through spending by people who visit them to fish, hunt, boat, view wildlife, and more. In addition, the land and water they contain also regulate our weather, treat our waste, control flooding, reduce drought, and provide habitat critical to wildlife.

Congress and the president set up the sequester cuts as a harmful punishment if they failed to agree on a budget. But weíre paying the price. Letís end the sequester cuts. 

 

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