Sunday, August 14, 2016

Forest Service Spends 52% of Annual Budget Fighting Fires

On August 4th, 2015 the US Forest Service released a report on fire fighting claiming fighting wildfires now consumes 52% of its annual budget.

2007 wildfires across Oregon, Idaho and Montana as viewed from the International Space Station. More than 850,000 acres in Idaho burned destroying more than  $10 billion in timber and lost revenue to the state and local communities. 

The report titled The Rising Cost of Fire Operations: Effects on the Forest Service’s Non-Fire Work states that in 2015, wildfires consumed more than half of the agency's budget. Compared to 16% of the Forest Service's total budget used to fight wildfires in 1994.

That same year,  the US Forest Service collected more money from timber sales ($3 billion) than it cost to operate the Forest Service  ($2.7 billion).

The agency contributed  $302 million to the general fund of the US Treasury,  according to a report by the Government Accountability Office. Making the Forest Service in 1994 to be one of the only federal agencies to put more back into the government than it costs the taxpayers to fund the agency.

Sadly,  the Forest Service now competes with other government programs and has become a net drain on society.

The report says that the costs for fighting wildfires is expected to devour a whopping 67% or more of Forest Service resources by the year 2025.

Unwilling to admit failure or to put the blame where it belongs: Washington DC, the Forest Service blames a boogeyman it calls "climate change".

What has really "changed" since 1994 is not the climate. But instead: the Forest Service's belief that a thinned forest is a healthy forest. And that letting dying, disease infested ladder fuels stand 10,000 trees per acre thick beneath a canopy of old growth forests is far better than letting human hands take advantage of a renewable resource. Plus,  the Forest Service apparently believes it is better to buy lumber from clear cutting sources in rain forests and to let American forests literally go up in smoke.

The real theme of the Forest Service report is that they need more money to do the job that they haven't been doing.

Which is a far cry from the Forest Service of yesteryear, that netted a positive cash flow into the US Treasury. Back when American forests used to be healthy,  dead trees were hard to find, and the Forest Service focused more on serving people and caring for the land.

Instead of today's Forest Service,  which focuses on burning down family cabins, destroying long used public roads, and figuring out more ways than not to lock the American people out of the forests they own.

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