Trump’s USFS Budget

From E&E News today….

Disappointing, but not surprising, reduction: “Funding for wildfire suppression would decline, from $1.5 billion to $1 billion, although a new emergency fund of $2.25 billion would be available to tap if regular suppression funds are exhausted….”


Wildfire management draws budget focus

The Trump administration’s proposed budget for fiscal 2019 would put money behind officials’ promise to more intensively manage national forests — but doesn’t predict much more timber coming out of them.

That’s one takeaway from the administration’s budget proposal for agriculture and forestry, which would slash some programs popular with lawmakers while boosting other initiatives. Overall spending would decline from the current fiscal year.

The president’s budget calls for more hazardous fuels reduction in Forest Service-managed lands, reflecting officials’ position that those areas have become more at risk for fire because of dry conditions and lack of maintenance over the years.

At least 1.1 million acres of national forest land would be treated for wildfire risk, the Agriculture Department said in budget documents.

But the proposal would maintain the current goal of 3.7 billion board feet of timber sold, a slight increase from the 3.2 billion board feet sold in 2018.

Overall, the proposal represents a mixed picture for forest programs.

The $450 million proposed for hazardous fuels reduction would be about $20 million more than this year, and the $375 million for forest products around $9 million more — both representing record-high levels, the administration said.

But total discretionary funding for the Forest Service would fall from nearly $6 billion this year to $5.1 billion as part of the administration’s plan. Funding for wildfire suppression would decline, from $1.5 billion to $1 billion, although a new emergency fund of $2.25 billion would be available to tap if regular suppression funds are exhausted — an arrangement Congress enacted beginning next year to avert the raiding of non-fire-related accounts by the Forest Service.

State and private forestry programs, which cover a wide variety of areas, from state parks to big-city tree-planting programs, would take a big hit, from $337 million in this year’s omnibus spending bill to $182 million in the president’s budget.

Land acquisition accounts would be eliminated at the Forest Service, and spending on capital projects would fall slightly under the 2020 proposal.

Other programs at USDA are also targeted for cuts, including crop insurance that’s covered in part by the federal government and some conservation programs. The administration proposed cutting the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program by $40 million a year and would eliminate the Conservation Stewardship Program, which Congress renewed in the 2018 farm bill in December after extended House-Senate negotiations.

The proposal contains several revenue-raisers in a handful of USDA agencies, including a new user fee at the Forest Service to cover costs to streamline minerals permitting, the department said. That would generate $60 million in fiscal 2020, according to the budget.

An additional $130 million would come from retaining mineral receipts to pay for infrastructure projects, USDA said.

8 thoughts on “Trump’s USFS Budget”

  1. Not too surprising, administrations tend to reduce State and Private which has strong support from states, who get the $.The FS minerals ideas are interesting..I’d be interested in more info from someone who has read the proposal.

  2. While certainly the proposed cuts are a concern, I do find the Public Lands Infrastructure Fund intriguing. It is similar to the Restore Our Parks fund but includes the USFS.

    “Invests in Public Lands Infrastructure Fund. DOI and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service manage an infrastructure asset portfolio with a replacement value exceeding $300 billion. The buildings, trails, roads, water systems, and Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools managed by the Departments are deteriorating, as evidenced by a deferred maintenance backlog that exceeds $18 billion. To address this backlog, the Budget proposes a $6.5 billion Public Lands Infrastructure Fund (Fund) to improve and repair facilities at national parks and forests, wildlife refuges, BIE schools, and on other public lands. The Fund would be supported by the deposit of 50 percent of the proceeds received from Federal offshore and onshore energy leases over the 2020-2024 period, subject to an annual limit of $1.3 billion. These investments would improve some of America’s most visited parks and public lands that support a multi-billion dollar outdoor recreation economy.” ……President’s Budget for a Better America (2020)

    • True, however, it would’ve been interesting to see the GOP reaction across the board if President Obama would’ve proposed a budget that called for a 90% reduction in the military budget.

  3. I looked around for more info on the Public Lands Infrastructure Fund and couldn’t find anything that mentions the FS … for example, here’s the HCN story
    “The other proposal to increase funding for parks and address the expensive maintenance backlog pairs funding with energy development on federal lands. As part of the Trump administration’s infrastructure plan, the executive branch has asked Congress to create an $18 billion “Public Lands Infrastructure Fund” for the Interior Department. This plan would take half of the royalties from expanded drilling and mining on public lands and put them towards the maintenance of park infrastructure. The plan has broad support from Republicans and the support of some Democrats. But the proposal has also been met with stiff opposition in the environmental community, who have decried the plan as an attempt to increase the sell-off of public lands to fossil fuel companies.”

    I think this is the original press release from Int and it doesn’t mention USDA either. Note the emphasis on the bipartisan nature of the support.

    When the HCN reporter said Republicans and “some Democrats” I looked to see whether our Colorado D Senator supported it. This
    sounds like more or less the same thing, with the idea being that the $ come from current leasing programs.

    It’s interesting that the HCN reporter quotes the environmental groups as “increasing the sell-off of public lands” when leases are commonly different from sales in the English language. That seems to be a new verbiage thing going on.. leases equal sales. If I could only pay for a lease and own a house (!).

    • There have been several groups wanting the Restore Our Parks/Public Lands Acts to include the USFS as well as DOI agencies. This is the first time there is evidence of this being proposed, and it is in the Trump budget as the “Public Lands Infrastructure Fund”.

      In Washington State, all of the Democrat Representatives cosponsor the House Restore Our Parks and Public Lands bill with the exception of Representative Heck. Rep. McMorris Rodgers (R) just joined them.

      My own belief is that it didn’t have traction in the last session because it was moving at the same time as the big highly publicized LWCF push. It is hard to believe that it is okay to fully fund and permanently authorize LWCF for wildlife lands acquisitions from oil/gas revenue, and this isn’t a problem, but it is for funding public lands infrastructure maintenance. If anything, oil/gas taxes and fees are better for on-going expenses whereas capital requests/earmarks are better for acquisitions. Regardless, as we move to a green economy, there will be a need to find new funding sources not tied to extraction for public lands management (including acquisitions), just like what is occurring with transportation infrastructure from potentially shrinking gas tax revenue.

      • OK, Jeff, thanks so much! It’s great to hear from someone who understands this. Here’s another question.. I guess the Administration Budget does not fund LWCF, according to some news sources. But why does it need to be funded if it is coming from the oil/gas revenue?

        I am with you on the idea to use the oil and gas $ for digging out of the maintenance hole and not so much new acquisitions.. maybe by the time we transition out of oil and gas, we will have caught up! Also acquisitions are inherently catchy and good for press, so Congressfolk like to vote for them.

        In Governor Polis’ campaign literature, it mentioned reducing regulations on using public lands for wind and solar. Maybe $ for those leases will ultimately substitute for oil and gas leases?


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