Forest Service Budget Depleted by Fire Costs
Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell sent out a notice in early September to all agency partners, including the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), notifying them that all staff travel, as well as all cost sharing and partnership agreements were being suspended because of the financial demands of the agency’s fire suppression activities, according to the ARVC Report.
This budget crisis has been further exacerbated by the fact that in the absence of a 2009 appropriations bill from Congress, the agency had to begin 2009 on Oct. 1 with the same funding levels as in 2008. This will have to continue until a 2009 appropriations bill is finally enacted, which may not be until March 2009, if there is no lame duck session following the election.
It also showed the critical importance of Congress passing legislation to remove this fiscal firefighting burden from the back of the Forest Service, ARVC stated.
The bill supported by ARVC, that would establish a special trust fund to pay for such firefighting activities, was introduced and received favorable attention in the 110th Congress but raised too many budget questions and will have to await further consideration in the 111th Congress in 2009.