Secretary Perdue had advocated for a fix for the way the U.S. Forest Service is funded for fighting wildfires since taking office in April 2017. Congress included the solution in the FY 2018 Omnibus Spending Package, which has been signed into law by President Donald J. Trump.
The solution included in the omnibus provides a new funding structure from FY2020 through FY2027. Beginning in FY2020, $2.25 billion of new budget authority is available to USDA and the Department of the Interior. The budget authority increases by $100 million each year, ending at $2.95 billion in new budget authority by FY2027. For the duration of the 8-year fix, the fire suppression account will be funded at the FY 2015 President’s Budget request - $1.011 billion. If funding in the cap is used, the Secretary of Agriculture must submit a report to Congress documenting aspects of fire season, such as decision-making and cost drivers, that led to the expenditures. The omnibus includes a 2-year extension of Secure Rural Schools, providing provide rural counties approximately $200 million more per year. It also provides Federal Land Transaction Facilitation Act Reauthorization. The legislation also includes seven important forest management reforms, including:
- Categorical Exclusion for Wildfire Resilience Projects
- Healthy Forest Restoration Act inclusion of Fire and Fuel Breaks
- 20-year Stewardship contracts
- Cottonwood Reform
- Fire Hazard Mapping Initiative
- Fuels Management for Protection of Electric Transmission Lines
- Good Neighbor Authority Road Amendment
We work in cooperation with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and Farm Service Agency to provide technical assistance, including assessing natural disaster damage, writing conservation plans, and implementing forestry practices such as restoration activities across both private and public lands.