A Steady Hand in the Storm

Flying under the radar, especially when piloted by a savvy and experienced hand, is the key to financial survival in the Trump administration. Although OMB’s new FY 2018 budget is dead on arrival in Congress, much of the Forest Service may wish it isn’t. The Forest Service’s bottom-line is slated for a $1 billion cut compared to FY 2017, but $800 million of that cut comes from zeroing out the FLAME wildfire suppression reserve fund. The Forest Service knows that Congress always makes up the difference in subsequent appropriations if it overspends on firefighting.

Trump’s budget calls for increasing national forest system spending by 6%. Challenge for the reader — Is there another domestic, discretionary federal agency that receives such generous treatment in this most fiscally conservative budget in modern history?

The balance of the cuts comes from the expected sources. Forest Service Research and State and Private Forestry each get hammered by 20%. Rounding things out, Capital Improvement & Maintenance, aka “infrastructure,” gets slashed; and, predictably, so, too, does land acquisition.

Bottom line? In this new era of savaging discretionary domestic spending, the Forest Service makes out like a bandit. Corollary — who needs a permanent Undersecretary of Agriculture when you’ve got D.C. at the helm?

4 Comments

  1. Tip of of iceberg Andy, but nonetheless instructive and anecdotally significant. Until we are collectively willing to understand the primacy of predatory neoliberal economic policy over environmental and social policy, we will remain “babes in the wood.”

  2. Of course, none of that money will go to more “boots on the ground”. The hierarchy thinks there is a pool of great timber employees just waiting for a call to go to work. They will hire a collection of bigwigs to see if they can still do stuff the way they always have, using inexperienced temporary employees to do highly technical work on the ground. Hey, not many current permanent employees could pass a cruising certification test, these days. Not many could do forest inventory work, either. Good luck teaching an inexperienced 20 year old to do that kind of work. Same for Timber Sale Administration. How many temps can step right into a position overseeing loggers? How many can make agreements and do the proper documentation? The Trump Administration will fail miserably, ignoring the rules, laws and policies, while forests die, rot and burn. They will resist efforts to ‘fund’ firestorms with FEMA disaster dollars, without serious concessions from the Democrats.

    Soooo, where do we go from here?

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