Forest Service will get its Tahoe funding back
More than $21 million siphoned from the U.S. Forest Service at Lake Tahoe Basin to cover costs of wildland firefighting across the nation will be returned, said Sen. Dianne Feinstein at an environmental summit Sunday.
A letter sent to the chairman of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Robert Byrd, R-W.Va., produced a promise.
“He gave us his word he would put it back,” said Feinstein, of Byrd.
Feinstein, D-Calif., Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., sent the letter.
The chief of the U.S. Forest Service, Dale Bosworth attended the summit and described Feinstein’s statement as “really good news.”
Because it is not allowed to run a deficit, the Forest Service in August recalled $1 billion of funding from its national forests to pay suppression costs expected to be $1.5 billion.
“I want to get the dollars back out to where they were from,” Bosworth said. “If we get back the whole billion it will be easy. If we get $500 million, I’ll have to figure out where it needs to go.”
But Bosworth said he expects the money taken from the basin, if returned, will be earmarked for the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit and will not go into a general fund at the Forest Service.
Of the $21 million at issue, $16 million was in a special account the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit uses to buy environmentally sensitive lands.
The rest of the money was to fund Environmental Improvement Program projects at the basin. Losing those funds delayed about 20 EIP projects, many related to watershed and vegetation management and road improvements.
— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at email@example.com
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