Funding cuts begin to hit Forest Service

From the Bozeman (Montana) Daily Chronicle

Funding cuts begin to hit Forest Service

“The reduction is the result of changes made at the federal level that alter the way the money is doled out between the different regions of the Forest Service. By 2018, Region 1 of the U.S. Forest Service — which includes all of the federally managed forests in Montana — will be appropriated 30 percent fewer dollars than it has gotten in the past few years. That cut comes in 10 percent increments for the next three years spread across the individual forests.”
Are some regions getting more funding? Or are all regions seeing cuts?

17 Comments

  1. The U.S. Forest Service in the interior west harvests 5% of the annual timber growth, while 96% of the growth dies and the timber inventory decreases by 1%. This, while the USFS gives itself a D- for recreation management.

    “If you can’t manage the land, give it to somebody who can.” becomes more and more a sensible imperative.

    • Consider revamping the business model, such as in raising the price of what the Forest Service is selling and/or knock off requiring the Service to sell timber and graze livestock below cost. The land of many uses is not defined by its timber production. It never was intended to.

  2. Interesting. Those look like some pretty deep funding cuts hitting the U.S. Forest Service’s recreation budgets.

    Does anyone have good information about (likely similar) funding cuts for the U.S. Forest Service’s timber sale program?

  3. The same cut in funding is happening here in USFS managed forests here in Washington State. They are wanting to close (barricade) roads rather than maintain them. The answer is obvious to raise more funds by increasing annual timber sales; or, return more timber management to to the State management.

      • I don’t think it’s odd to suggest that we need more logging on national forests. I think we ought harvest enough timber to support a forest’s infrastructure — roads, recreation sites, and so on — on a sustainable basis. To do that, we’ll have to sell some timber.

  4. This funding cut in R1 is specifically tied to trail construction and maintenance funding and is due to an internal reallocation that was (in my opinion) way overdue and moves from basing funding on what it used to be to a series of factors including miles of trail, structures, and trail use/visitation.

    R3 is getting a big boost while most other regions are relatively flat. R1 is definitely taking it on the chin.

  5. Oregon’s federally-managed forests have an annual growth of 3.3 billion board feet. Of that annual growth, just 230 million is harvested while 960 million is lost to mortality (note: the mortality is about four times what is harvested). The remaining 2.11 billion board feet is left as live, green, growing stock. At 10.8 industry jobs per million board feet, harvesting just the 2.11 billion board feet could employ more than 22,000 Oregonians! And that is just the growing stock; not a single board foot of the current standing timber is harvested.

    If all the timber lost to mortality was salvaged, another 10,000 Oregonians could be employed, though as a practical matter, scattered blow-down, insect-kills, etc. make it impractical to harvest all that lost timber. Nonetheless, in the case of insect epidemics or wildfire, some of that would be practical.

    From a carrying capacity standpoint, the forest is simply not capable of adding that much growing stock year after year without eventually exceeding the forest’s ability to maintain that forest and keep it healthy. My suspicion is that, in the American West, the poor state of the forests is an indicator that many of our forests have already exceeded its carrying capacity.

    If our elected officials had the courage, the need for budget cuts is laughable!

    • Oregon is filled with private timberland that the industry prefers to stack raw on a ship or mill to dimensioned lumber. We then buy it back as finished product. Carrying capacity. The maximum population of a species to survive indefinitely in a given environment. So we’re are managing for Ponderosa & Doug fir? What about other species and values?
      Mortality. Dead trees don’t make particularly make good timber or firewood. Mostly dead trees? At a scale that prevents below cost sales? I daresay I can tell Weyerhaeuser land from Forest Service land not because it looks like a postcard, but because every tree is the same species and age and on every other hillside, everything has been cropped off. It’s not a multiple use, multiple values landscape.

  6. I’m sure there is a lot more to it than what is written in this article. The increasing percentage of FS funding that goes to wildfire suppression is not even mentioned. The change in how administrative positions are funded has been going on for several years – and in some cases is freeing up additional funds that can go to work on the ground. Of course, that means that those costs have to be taken from somewhere else if staffing levels stay the same…no free lunch…

    • Yes, the article doesn’t acknowledge that Forests compete for funds and have different needs. But it does suggest that no one is receiving the funds needed. But this state of affairs won’t change by ramping up the harvest.

  7. Cuts are long overdue. I find the discussions about getting more timber out (though a worthwhile goal) to be a red herring. Simply put USFS at all three deputy areas, national forest, R&D and State and Private is an inefficient and overbloated entity. No other agency has such top-heavy WO staff. Go to any national forest now and you see dozens of specialists in the SO and yet the ranger districts are depopulated and merged into zones. They couldn’t get the cut out if they wanted to because there is nobody on the ground to mark the timber, make the sale, do the NEPA, etc. And if that did happen, the SO specialists would make sure in the ID Team Mtg that after aquatics, soils, arch, etc. were done objecting, nothing could proceed. R&D is the worst offender, albeit chump change compared to fire spending. Show me a line of research that has ever ended, even when the answer is known or the result is a finding that there is no answer or solution. And consider the wasteful debacle that is the Albuquerque Service Center.

    USDA ought to simply take 3/5ths of the budget of each national forest and hand that to the state DOF and Game & Fish for that state and say “here you go, here are the standards and guides to follow, go out and manage as you see fit for your state and local area”. Rather than have a GS-12/13 specialist whom does know anything about the local ecology (because they came from the West to the East or vice versa), the state would hire a locally educated, competent person with roots in the system/community at half the price to do the same work. You can see that now with Joint Ventures and LCC’s. The ones being run by NGOs or the states are far more effective and impactful than the ones with Feds from top to bottom.

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