Congress has agreed to increase or maintain current funding levels for all of USDA Forest Service’s crucial State and Private Forestry programs in its FY18 omnibus appropriations bill.
WASHINGTON—Congress has passed a Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 omnibus appropriations bill that the National Association of State Foresters wholeheartedly supports. Not only would the bill fix wildfire funding and reform systems for managing federal forests, it would increase or maintain funding levels for all of the USDA Forest Service’s State and Private Forestry programs compared to FY17 levels.
“Congress has made it very clear with this spending bill that it sees tremendous value in ensuring America’s forests are healthy, resilient, and productive,” said George Geissler, NASF president and Oklahoma state forester.
“State foresters, and the agencies they direct, use State and Private Forestry programs to conserve 60 percent of all the forests in the United States,” Geissler continued. “The benefits of their work extend far beyond state and private ownership boundaries too: all of America’s forests—including federally forests—are healthier and more resilient in the face of forest pests, disease, and wildfire when neighboring forests are actively managed.”
Congress’ 2018 spending bill would increase funding over FY17 enacted levels for the following State and Private Forestry programs: State Fire Assistance and Volunteer Fire Assistance programs by $3 million; the Urban and Community Forestry program by nearly $500,000; the Forest Health Management Program on Cooperative Lands by $2 million; and the Forest Legacy program by $4.65 million.
“These investments may seem modest, but in the right hands, they’ll go a long way in protecting our nation’s trees and forests,” said Jay Farrell, executive director of NASF.
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