Congress gives Forest Service more money than administration requested

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The U.S. Congress was much more sympathetic to the U.S. Forest Service’s funding needs and requests than the Trump administration’s revised fiscal year 2017-18 budget submission.

Excluding wildfire funding, Congress appropriated $3.1 billion for the agency. This was nearly $625 million more than the prior-year funding and about $830 million more than President Donald Trump requested for the USFS’s current-year budget. Wildfire funding also was increased about $500 million.

While funds for forest management were about $100 million more than the request, $40 million was for restoring funding for the forest-landscape restoration fund, which the administration had eliminated.

The greatest difference with the administration’s recommendation was funding for capital improvement and maintenance projects. The Appropriation Committees added nearly $350 million to the administration’s $100 million request. Most of the added funding is for roads and facilities. This includes upgrades and maintenance of the smokejumper bases.

Land acquisition was another area where Congress differed from the administration’s proposal.

Congress provided $430 million for hazardous-fuels projects, another $75 million more than the request. The committees also directed the Forest Service to establish priorities for these projects. And to expand work to include projects that collaborate with private landowners on projects that extend beyond the national forest boundary.

Overall, fire suppression and preparation funding was increased. Fire suppression was funded at 100 percent of its 10-year average level.

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