Today, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) joined other conservation organizations on submitting a letter to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, encouraging Congress to support full funding for U.S. Forest Service (USFS) programs that were previously underfunded due to diversions to pay for fire suppression efforts.
For years, CSF worked with a wide range of conservation partners to support a fix for fire-borrowing – the practice by which the USFS diverts funds from wildlife, outdoor recreation, and other programs to cover wildfire suppression costs. The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 provided a fix to end fire-borrowing, and Congress has the opportunity to restore funding in 2020 to other USFS program budgets that are vital for improving forest health and wildlife habitat.
The letter stated, “Congress must take the second step to ensure that the funds made available by stabilizing the agency budget against rising firefighting costs are reinvested back into the Forest Service mission, with a special emphasis on forest health, recreation, and access.”
Wildfire suppression costs consumed more than 50% of the USFS budget in recent years, but sportsmen’s groups are optimistic that the USFS will be able to renew focus on vegetation management and other programs that improve forest resiliency and increase access for sportsmen and women on the more than 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands across the country.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?