Well, it’s that time of the year.. when FS folks’ thoughts turn to finding pots of money for fire, and not doing other things. Attached is a copy of the Chief’s letter. I am curious, does this happen to BLM, FWS, the Park Service, who also are federal agencies who work on fires? If not, why not?
I know the FLAME act was intended to fix this.. I wonder why it didn’t work and what suggestions people have to make it work.
Here’s the letter. Of course, it’s not as bad as it could be..bureaucrats are very adaptive, so that folks strategize how not to leave bucks around where they could be transferred.
Year after year, though, this has to be one of the silliest and least productive bureaucratic exercises in government.
11 thoughts on “Fall is in the Air and So is Smoke: Fire Transfer Begins”
Raiding budget line items to pay for fire suppression is unique to the Forest Service among federal agencies. The FS is the only agency with legal authority to do so, granted early in the 20th century. This is one possible explanation for why the FS spends so much more per acre than other agencies with an ever increasing gap.
I also think that the Forest Service is one of the only firefighting Agencies to often use the Let-Burn policy. The West Fork example should be an eye-opener, when a 150 acre Wilderness fire was allowed to exploded into a costly firestorm. One of these times, we’re going to see fireline deaths associated with a conscious decision to let a wildfire get HUGE! It IS inevitable, as long as they continue this costly practice of turning small fires into firestorms, with dubious returns.
Thanks, Andy looks like we were discussing the same thing last year.
It seems like really bad policy, IMHO.
Although not ever agency fights fires, every agency at this time of the year does creative accounting to balance their budgets
Or spends like crazy to get to zero.
Sharon…do you have the attachment to the letter that lists the amount of money the USFS is expected to divert to fire suppression?
Howard Berkes, NPR
I am guessing it is a “blank check”, like always! The massive amounts of money involved must seem like play money to them, at times like these. “Just put it on the card!”
No, sorry, Howard. Maybe someone else does?
I don’t have an attachment but the rumor mill says $600 million starting August 23.Anyone who knows more please feel free to chime in. It’s no way to run a government, IMHO.
This is nothing unique to the forest service. Business does it all of the time for all kinds of reasons. Budgets, laws and rules are meant for the peons not the big wheels.
I can understand a need for this to some degree since acreage burned is subject to some pretty big variables such as stand conditions, terrain, access, and weather. You have to shoot for the recent norm and fall back to desperate measures when things are worse. I’m sure that the GAO and Congress aren’t going to let any surplus funds be carried over to fund over budget fire costs in the future. Speaking of the GAO, is it them or some other watch dog fed agency that seems to have it in for the USFS and is questioning the need for fuels treatments and thinnings and other basic forestry practices?
Did you notice on the letter that the USDA logo in nice bright shining color is all poised to replace the minimized B&W USFS logo. I didn’t think that the USFS pensioners had won the war to keep the logo. The war is over and now it’s just a question of timing.
It’s OMB that had it in for fuels treatments. I had heard that they were taken to the woodshed by a bi partisan Congressional group but the proof’s in the pudding.
Here’s a previous post on the subject: