Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Obama, Recreation, and Wildfires

Today, American citizens and outdoor recreationists are being deluged by an avalanche of legislative proposals and regulatory schemes that include healthcare reform, “cap and tax,” government run auto companies, budget battles, Wilderness bills, and, of course, travel management. Many are of dubious value.

In the midst of all of this – comes a somewhat welcome proposal by the Obama administration to review how federal wildfires are funded.

The article correctly points out that historically once the federal wildfire budget has been exhausted – the agencies borrow (or steal) funds from other programs such as timber management. What the story does not say is that often the first department to be defunded was the Forest Service or BLM recreation/trails program.

In states such as California where massive wildfires can be the norm, the small stream of appropriated recreation monies that was slated for on-the-ground trail projects or facility maintenance was many times diverted to fighting wildfires.

The General welcomes the administration’s effort on this topic and hopes that it will end the agency’s current practice of cannibalizing its non-fire related programs to pay for countering wildfires.

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