While President Barrack Obama requested more funding in 2014 for the Forest Service’s Wildland Fire Management programs, staffing is nevertheless being reduced by five percent (nearly 680 positions). The overall Forest Service budget projects 1,100 fewer positions in 2014 than 2013. The increase for both preparedness and suppression activities hides the staffing cut. Fifty million is allocated for continuation of modernizing the agency’s air tanker fleet.

Large funding cuts were made to the capital improvement and maintenance account. The proposed capital account of $328 million is almost $74 million less than a year ago. Operating programs were cut $16.4 million and forestry programs and grants to states and private groups were reduced $15 million.

Wildland fire management increase of $65.8 million is consistent with the 10-year average of fire expenses. The forest and range research programs were also increased $11.5 million.

Most of the fire management increase ($145.7 million) is for suppression costs. But the president also increased the preparedness totals by nearly $53.2 million, including the $50 million for its air tanker resources. Another $24 million will be used this year to begin the process of improving its air firefighting equipment.

The FLAME wild fire suppression reserve fund request is $315 million, which supplements suppression cost activities. In 2012, suppression costs for 61 fires, including 12 in California, were funded from this account.

The hazardous fuels account was reduced by $115.8 million. These funds are targeted to areas within the wildland urban interface and especially those where a community wildland protection plan has been completed.

Despite the funding increases, the budget projects staffing for wildland fire management programs to decrease by 679 positions (5.6 percent). Nearly 80 percent are the 536 positions cut for hazardous fuels activities.

The consolidation of cooperative fire programs into the wildland fire appropriation resulted in the net decrease. For example, state fire assistance was funded from both wildland fire and state and private forestry appropriations in 2013. The combined funding availability was $86.2 million. In 2014, the two were consolidated in wildland fire, but the request is for $69.5 million, representing a $16.7 million decrease.

Volunteer fire assistance suffered the same fate. In 2013, the two accounts totaled $13 million, but the 2014 request is for $11.2 million.

If Congress approves the President’s budget recommendations, the 2014 deficit will be $744 billion, actually an increase of $117 billion over the projected level without any changes. Yet this is a $230 billion decrease from the current fiscal year’s deficit. But the deficit would be $1.4 trillion less over the next 10 years.