Increase in Trail Appropriations?

The House Appropriations Committee released its report for the Interior Appropriations bill this week.

For context the House will be the high water mark for funding and will likely see some differences and decreases in the Senate bill, when that is released. 

Forest Service

$100M to fund Capital Improvement and Maintenance, Trails

House Bill: $84.808M (+$3.8M from FY20) 

Text: Trail Maintenance and Construction -Recommended $84,808,000 for Trail Maintenance and Construction, $6,000,000 above the budget request.  

$261M to fund Recreation, Heritage & Wilderness

House Bill: $269.41M (+$7.41M increase from FY20)

Text: Recreation, Heritage and Wilderness -Recommended $269,410,000 for Recreation, Heritage and Wilderness, $5,781,000 above the budget request.  

$9.9M to fund National Conservation Lands – National Scenic Historic Trails, sub-activity Recreation Resources Management

Text: Recreation Management – Recommended $78,539,000 for Recreation Management, $2,863,000 above the budget request. Changes to the request include an increase of $1,863,000 in wilderness management to restore the proposed reduction. 

This is just the beginning of a long process.

Fighting Forest Fires and Covid

It appears the precautions firefighters will take to reduce or prevent spreading the COVID-19 virus will keep crews together and as isolated as possible, transporting fewer firefighters in each vehicle, avoiding fire camps when possible, sanitizing everything, physical distancing, reducing travel, and limiting contacts and interactions. These policies may reduce the efficiency and output of crews.

It appears the number of fire aviation will be increased.

Below is an excerpt from an article by Jeanne Dorin McDowell published July 7, 2020 in Smithsonian Magazine.

“With COVID, firefighting is hearkening back to the more-antiquated style. For example, firefighters will respond quickly to suppress small fires quickly rather than letting them burn, using local resources instead of bringing in firefighters from other areas. Controlled burns, fires set intentionally to eliminate dead growth and pave the way for new healthy growth, will be reduced if not canceled for the 2020 fire season because the accompanying smoke can seep into surrounding communities and harm individuals who have acquired the COVID-19 virus.

Towards that end, aerial firefighting will be beefed up and helicopters added to fleets to douse fires with flame retardant or water in advance of firefighters trekking into locations to fight wildfires. Says the Forest Service’s Hahnenberg: “We will mount aerial attacks, even in remote areas where fires might have been allowed to burn in the past, to reduce risks to ground crews and the public from smoke that could make them more vulnerable to severe COVID-19 illness.”

Did you know Arctic Cat made a line of riding mowers in the early 70’s called Grasscat?  This is an oldie but a goodie!

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