WHEREAS many public and private organizations and individuals have spent considerable time on various Forest Service advisory committees and collaboratives, trying to reach management agreements on several contentious issues including timber harvesting, grazing, travel management, recreational use, minerals extraction, oil and gas exploration, wildlife management, and watershed protection, and
WHEREAS because of changing climatic conditions including drought, continued population growth into the wildland-urban interface, historic fire suppression and a long-term decline in vegetative treatments and timber harvests on national forest system lands, wildfires across Colorado and the nation continue to get bigger, burn longer, and cost more, and
WHEREAS to combat catastrophic wildland fires, Congress requires the Forest Service to pay for these expenses out of its operating budget and directs that the fire suppression portion of the wildfire budget be based on a ten-year average of firefighting costs, and
WHEREAS the ten-year average wildfire line item has grown exponentially, from 15% of the Forest Service budget in 1995 to 52% of the budget in 2015, and is projected to grow to 67% (two-thirds of the Forest Service’s budget) by 2025, and
WHEREAS in light of federal budget constraints, the dramatically increasing cost of fighting wildfires has negatively impacted important programs such as vegetation and range management, recreation and other facility maintenance, wildlife and fisheries management, road maintenance and repairs, and other programs important to the jobs and economies of CLUB 20 counties.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that CLUB 20 believes that continued public involvement in forest management decision- making processes is at risk, as the automatic budget decisions driven by wildfire ”borrowing” from other Forest Service budget programs leads to the postponing or the outright elimination of necessary locally-supported projects, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that CLUB 20 expresses its concern that the Forest Service’s credibility with the public is threatened by this inadequate and erratic budget process, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that CLUB 20 believes that member communities’ jobs and economies, as well as the health of the national forests surrounding these communities, are experiencing severe negative impacts, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that CLUB 20 supports a wildfire funding solution in the immediate future, as the budget crisis has hit a tipping-point and continued debate is detrimental to CLUB 20 counties, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that CLUB 20 advocates using the new authorities promulgated in the 2013 Farm bill, and exploring additional authorities and efficiencies in new legislation that will allow the Forest Service to accomplish long overdue work and programs that support Western Colorado jobs and economies.
(Formerly PL 93 2)