2014 USFS Budget: A Decrease of $116 Million for Hazardous Fuels?

The USFS’s proposed 2014 budget includes “a decrease of $116 million for hazardous fuels” but says “non-Wildland Urban Interface Hazardous Fuels work will occur within the Integrated Resource Restoration line item in order to accomplish work more efficiently.” Integrated Resource Restoration (IRR) has a proposed line item of $757 million.

However, the IRR, which was a pilot program in three regions, had a proposed budget for 2013 of $793,124 (I don’t know what was actually allocated — anyone know?). So the 2014 IRR program gets $36 million less, but is expanded.

My question is this: Is the decrease of $116 million for hazardous fuels actually a bigger decline that is obscured by the shift to IRR?

Here are two sections from the 2014 Budget Overview, (http://www.fs.fed.us/aboutus/budget/).

Integrated Resource Restoration. We propose extending the Integrated Resource Restoration Program from the current pilot program in three regions to cover all National Forest System lands. By folding together funds from six budget line items (Wildlife and Fisheries Management, Vegetation and Watershed Management, Forest Products, Non-Wildland Urban Interface Hazardous Fuels, Rehabilitation and Restoration, and Legacy Roads and Trails), we will gain administrative efficiencies and increased flexibility for multiple activities across a single landscape. We propose a national Integrated Resource Restoration budget line item of $757 million. As part of this funding, we propose $3.9 million in spending to generate 3.1 million green tons of woody biomass and $800,000 for the USDA Wood to Energy Initiative in support of community and business efforts to convert wood to energy.

Hazardous Fuels. We propose $201 million, a decrease of $116 million for hazardous fuels from the FY 2013 annualized continuing resolution level. As proposed in FY 2013, non-Wildland Urban Interface Hazardous Fuels work will occur within the Integrated Resource Restoration line item in order to accomplish work more efficiently. We also propose allocating $10.5 million to support wood-to-energy initiatives including $6 million for Woody Biomass Utilization Grants; $2.5 million for State Wood to Energy Teams; $1 million for Biomass Air Quality Improvement; and $1 million for Development of Financial Instruments for Wood Energy efforts.

This kind of stuff makes my head hurt, especially on Mondays.

Steve

3 Comments

  1. I’m having a similar issue with the 2014 budget regarding “Inventory and Monitoring”. This line item, which has been pretty steady at around 165 million since 2003, has been eliminated and moved into “Land Management Planning, Assessment & Monitoring” proposed at around 184 million for FY 2014. What does that mean I wonder? I guess this is on par with the agency’s lean on programmatic monitoring (as required in NFMA) and not project based monitoring (which the courts have generally sided with the FS on not doing). I have a sense this means actual I&M activity will be reduced and project based monitoring will continue to lag, especially with all the forest planning revisions coming up. As far as the IRR is concerned, I’m not sure either. I get the feeling the FS is trying to gain more flexibility through their budgets.

  2. More nonsense. As a target for FY 2014 CFLR, Pg.5-11 of the USFS Budget Justification provides the number 534,900. for “Number of green tons and/or volume of woody biomass from hazardous fuel reduction and restoration treatments on Federal land that are made available through permits,contracts, grants, agreements, or the equivalent” Not sure how adding green tons to cubic feet (or ccf, or MMcf) produces anything but a meaningless number to impress the casual reader. Another “misprint” or “editing error”? Will the last forester leaving the WO, USFS take the shield with him (or her, as the case may be).

  3. If we were Congress, we could have a hearing and ask the Chief more about how putting a hazardous fuels in a different budget line item increases the efficiency of the program. But it seems to me that putting the same kind of work together (WUI and non WUI) might actually be more efficient, since I think the same people handle all fuels treatments and wouldn’t have to keep track of 2 BLI’s.

    Steve, it makes my head hurt, too!

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