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?