Democratic News

“Today the Committee will consider the President’s request for the Forest Service’s FY 2013 budget.   The request would result in a 1 percent decrease in the overall Forest Service budget, with a slight increase in the discretionary accounts.

“The budget has a number of high spots:  For example, many of us on this committee support full funding for the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program.  This budget does, too.  It maintains a strong commitment to hazardous fuels reduction.  It includes a modest increase in land acquisition funding for a number of high-priority projects like the broadly-supported Miranda Canyon acquisition in New Mexico.

“At the same time, the Forest Service and its budget continue to face some significant challenges:  For example, past emergency borrowing from discretionary accounts and Congress’s recent rescissions from firefighting accounts have left the Forest Service once again at risk of running out of firefighting funds.  As we discussed last year at this hearing, the fleet of airplanes used for firefighting continues to approach the end of its lifespan. 

“The value of timber remains low.  Climate change and drought have left an unprecedented number of acres of Western forests affected by bark beetles.  And after Congress rejected the same proposal last year, the budget again proposes to eliminate the account for the Valles Caldera National Preserve.

“I’d like to welcome back Chief Tom Tidwell and Acting Forest Service Budget Director Susan Spear to testify this morning.  Chief Tidwell, I have been very pleased that New Mexico’s national forests will be able to take advantage of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program and will be among the first in the Nation to implement the Forest Service’s new planning rule, and will serve as a demonstration project for the Integrated Resource Restoration account pilot program.  So, we welcome you here this morning and thank you for those excellent opportunities.”

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