FS Budget & Sequestration 101
To (sort of) understand the sequestration and its effects on the Forest Service, here’s a crash course in the Forest Service’s budget.
FS spending is divided into the following budget accounts (FY2013):
National Forest System ($1.63 billion): This money is used primarily to pay salaries & benefits for the 40,000 folks who do day-to-day national forest management.
Fire ($2.5 billion): About half is spent on having an infrastructure reading to fight fires and the other half on actually fighting the fires, with very large fires accounting for most of these costs. These proportions can vary greatly from one year to another.
Research ($0.3 billion): Studying how things tick.
Capital Improvement ($0.45 billion): Fixing built stuff.
State and Private Forestry ($0.26 billion): Cutting & burning worthless wood.
Permanent Appropriations ($0.65 billion): Payments to states (e.g., Secure Rural Schools) is the big ticket. Also where most of your recreation fee dollars are spent. A potpourri of other spending tidbits is lumped in here, too, e.g., salvage sale money laundering.
Land Acquisition ($0.08 billion): House R’s don’t want to buy any more federal land, so we don’t anymore.
Trust Funds ($0.08 billion): Green groups don’t want to cut any trees, so we don’t anymore, which has pretty much zeroed out K-V and other trust funds.
Take these numbers and subtract 5% and that gives you the FY2013 spending amount if the sequestration dollars stay sequestered to the end of the fiscal year. On a month-to-month basis, however, actual spending will reflect a 10% cut because federal agencies have been spending at the regular, un-sequestered rate since the beginning of the fiscal year (10/1/12). We’re halfway through the fiscal year, so agencies have to double their cuts to stay within the caps.
How the FS distributes the cuts WITHIN these budget accounts is anyone’s guess.