Bingaman on the FY12 Forest Service Budget
Opening Statement – March 3, 2011
“Good morning. Today’s hearing is to consider the President’s proposal for the Forest Service’s fiscal year 2011 budget.
“We welcome Chief Tidwell who has been here many times before back to the Committee—we appreciate you coming to testify today.
“The budget is tight. This proposal would cut the Forest Service’s discretionary budget by nearly $180 million. It would significantly impact a number of important programs and cut staffing levels to their lowest level in decades.
“I commend the Administration for its proposal to fund the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program and also the FLAME Wildfire Suppression Fund, which are important programs that were recently enacted with the strong support in this Committee. The proposal to create an Integrated Resource Restoration Account has been improved from last year and would be a positive step to increase land management efficiency and effectiveness.
“I also support the Administration’s commitment to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which will enable high-priority land acquisition projects to proceed with broad local support in the large majority of the States that are represented on this Committee.
“However, I also have concerns with some of the proposals in the budget. One of those is the proposal to use discretionary program funds for County Payments instead of mandatory funding we have had in recent years.
“I also am concerned about the cut to the chronically underfunded landownership management program, which funds work on land exchanges, boundary surveys, and rights-of-way for electric lines, pipelines, communication lines, and other critical infrastructure.
“I have a number of questions that I hope to get to later in the hearing. I’d like to turn to Senator Murkowski for her statement and then to Chief Tidwell for his testimony.”
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