Budget also proposes measure for continued payments to states for rural economic development
The USDA Forest Service will receive $4.9 billion for the sustainable management of America’s 155 national forests and 20 grasslands, as part of the President’s fiscal year 2007 budget.
"As the Forest Service enters its second century of service, its focus is to continue to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire, the impacts from invasive species, provide outstanding outdoor recreation opportunities, help to meet the nation's energy needs, improve watershed conditions, and remain a world leader in forestry research and forest conservation," said Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth. "The President's budget provides the agency with a sound approach for meeting those goals through partnerships and collaboration."
Below are the highlights of the President’s budget for the Forest Service.
Restoring America’s Forest and Rangeland Health
President Bush is allocating $610 million in the 2007 budget to continue implementation of the Healthy Forests Initiative to reduce hazardous fuels and restore forest health. The budget proposal, more than a $12 million increase over 2006, takes an integrated approach to reducing hazardous fuels and restoring forest and rangeland health. Along with more than $301 million provided to the Department of the Interior, the 2007 budget provides a total of nearly $913 million to implement the Healthy Forests Restoration Act.
The Forest Service and DOI last year treated hazardous fuels on more than 2.9 million acres of land, and reduced hazardous fuels on an additional 1.4 million acres through other land management actions. Federal agencies plan to treat 2.9 million more acres in 2006, and accomplish hazardous fuels reduction on an additional 1.6 million acres through landscape restoration activities. An additional 4.6 million acres are planned for 2007, which includes 3 million acres of hazardous fuels treatments and 1.6 million acres of landscape restoration. By the end of fiscal year 2007, federal agencies will have treated hazardous fuels on more than 21.5 million acres of our nation’s forests and wooded rangelands since the beginning of fiscal year 2001, and will have restored an additional 5.1 million acres.
As part of the President’s Advanced Energy Initiative, the budget proposal includes $5 million in grants to foster markets in biomass utilization, which will make restoration work on our nation’s forests and grasslands more financially feasible.
Renewing Commitment to Meet Northwest Forest Plan’s Goals
The 2007 budget also reflects the President’s commitment to collaboration and sustainable forestry in the Pacific Northwest through increased funding to fully implement the 1994 Northwest Forest Plan. The plan promised to produce a predictable and sustainable level to timber sales while protecting the long term health of forests, wildlife and waterways of the region. The budget proposal increases funding for the plan by $66 million for a total of $182 million. It also allows for the Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest and Pacific Southwest regions to offer 800 million board feet of timber to meet the goals of the Northwest Forest Plan.
Sustaining Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act Payments
To underscore the President’s commitment to states and counties impacted by the loss of receipts associated with lower timber harvests on federal lands, the budget includes a legislative proposal that provides $800 million above the current baseline for a five year extension of forest county safety net payments by amending the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act. These payments will be targeted to the most affected areas. To provide a funding basis to offset these payments from the U.S. Treasury, the proposal would authorize the conveyance of parcels of forest land that are isolated or inefficient to manage due to location or other characteristics. Because of the Forest Legacy and land acquisition programs, there is no expected net loss of lands protected by Forest Service action.