State Foresters Recognize Pros and Cons of President’s FY24 Budget Request
WASHINGTON, D.C.—As the President’s FY24 Budget Request is unveiled, State Foresters recognize the merit of the Biden-Harris Administration’s support for key State, Private and Tribal Forestry programs (SP&TF) and identify missed opportunities where the budget falls short.
“State forestry agencies coordinate a full suite of programs that support everything from reforestation and landowner assistance to urban forestry and wildland fire response on all lands, including federal lands. While the proposed increases are helpful, this budget misses a historic opportunity to leverage state resources and support the boots-on-the-ground professionals needed to get critical work done,” said Jay Farrell, Executive Director.
The budget includes a modest and much needed increase for the Forest Stewardship Program (FSP). The administration has indicated a distinct appreciation for the efficacy of the FSP in equipping private forest landowners with unbiased, science-backed information needed to manage their forests today while ensuring their sustenance tomorrow. Through this program, state forestry agencies provide technical assistance to private landowners, who own most of America’s forestland and generate a multitude of public benefits through private forests.
Additional increases are proposed for the Forest Health Cooperative Lands and the Urban and Community Forestry Programs, two programs crucial to restoring forested landscapes in urban areas and small communities that also serve to protect the land from harmful plants, pests, disease and other forest threats.
The President’s FY24 Budget Request falls short with respect to state forester priority programs, including a proposed decrease of $3M in funding for the Landscape Scale Restoration Program (LSR). LSR projects help states use multiple programs and innovative approaches to address large-scale issues such as wildfire risk reduction and the spread of invasive species.
Notably, the budget further proposes level funding for the State Fire Assistance (SFA) and Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) programs. These programs provide critical support to the state and local firefighters who are the first responders and first line of defense for roughly 80 percent of all wildfires in the country, regardless of jurisdiction.
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