Interior Dept: Sequestration is going to mean less firefighting, you know

posted at 7:31 pm on May 13, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Just in case you thought the administration had finished drumming up frightening reasons for why Congress really needs to get their stuff together and undo sequestration, never fear. The past few summers, we’ve watched some truly catastrophic wildfires rage across the American landscape, and the Departments of Interior and Agriculture would like you to know that because of these automatic budget cuts, they’re going to be rather hard-pressed to find the adequate resources to mitigate the next round:

After another dry winter across much of the West, fire officials are poised for a tough wildfire season that will be even more challenging because federal budget cuts mean fewer firefighters on the ground, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Monday. …

They also will have fewer resources to use on strategies designed to reduce future fire potential, such as prescribed burns and reseeding.

“We will fight the fires and we will do them safely,” Jewell said. “But the resources will go to suppression, which is not ideal. What you’re not doing is putting the resources in place to thoughtfully manage the landscape for the future.”

Jewell spent the past two days touring the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, the government’s national wildfire nerve center. She was joined by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, who said the U.S. Forest Service alone will hire 500 fewer firefighters and deploy 50 fewer engines this season.

“Thoughtfully manage the landscape for the future”? …Well, that’s mighty rich, considering that decades of poor government policies are directly responsible for the utterly havoc-wreaking nature of many of these recent fires. The federal government has performed some truly spectacular mismanagement of the public estate over the years, all thanks to a large bureaucracy subject to the lobbying of well-meaning but wildly mistaken environmentalists as well as the inherent flaws of central planning and collective ownership. I’m revisiting this piece from the Property and Environment Research Center, but it is just as true as ever:

In the late-1980s, for instance, timber harvesting off national forest land came to a nearly complete halt as a result of court injunctions precipitated in the Pacific Northwest. Litigation by environmentally conscious lobbying groups, specifically over concerns of habitat destruction for endangered species, made large-scale timber harvest a thing of the past. Grazing permits likewise encountered a dramatic decline for similar reasons. Combined with an aggressive thirty-year campaign of actively putting out all fires (is there any more iconic mascot than Smoky the Bear?), these actions led predictably to a dramatic increase in forest-density and ground cover.

Forest density and ground cover is called “habitat” by the green contingent, “fuel-load” by their brown compatriots. And, of course, there is an element of truth in each view, often masking personal preferences and economic agendas. But the point is this: the kind of see-sawing policy shifts which encouraged dramatic, perhaps unsustainable, increases in extractive uses in the early 1980s was followed by dramatic, perhaps unconscionable, reductions in these uses a decade later. These market-insulated policy shifts were not based on good information (which markets are extraordinarily good at projecting), but on politics and the relative power of lobbying those in control. The short-term increases in forest habitat resulting from reduced extraction charged the pan for the tremendous blazes we have encountered in the past decade.

Slow-moving bureaucracies operating with top-down fiat, political influences, and imperfect knowledge is a reliably poor recipe for efficient and responsive environmental stewardship. If ever there was a prime example of precisely why the federal government does need to be trimmed down, this is it — and in the meantime, let’s not forget that it was President Obama who declined to give federal agencies more flexibility with their sequester-spending cuts in order to bring about the most visible consequences possible.


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Liars – the gov’t began this process last year.

Schadenfreude on May 13, 2013 at 7:33 PM

They did this last summer.

Schadenfreude on May 13, 2013 at 7:34 PM

Simply disband the Bureau of Indian Affairs. They are worthless and have done little to protect Native Americans.

originalpechanga on May 13, 2013 at 7:34 PM

Hey Obama Admin, yeah, probably not a great time to do the sequestration fear mongering with Scandalpalooza going on and all.

kerrhome on May 13, 2013 at 7:34 PM

After another dry winter across much of the West, fire officials are poised for a tough wildfire season that will be even more challenging because federal budget cuts mean fewer firefighters on the ground, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Monday. …

The obvious intent of this government to harm people for Obama’s gain is just plain wrong.

CW on May 13, 2013 at 7:35 PM

Hard to believe that 3% of the budget paid for so many vital services.

myiq2xu on May 13, 2013 at 7:35 PM

Obama will make sure any cuts are to vital organs of the government, not irrelevant, ineffectual, redundant bureaucratic appendixes.

His aim is pain.

profitsbeard on May 13, 2013 at 7:35 PM

Hard to believe that 3% of the budget paid for so many vital services.

myiq2xu on May 13, 2013 at 7:35 PM

Only the average Obama vote would.

CW on May 13, 2013 at 7:38 PM

Oh well – it was all obama’s idea – let it BURN (literally) – while obama continues to golf, and vacation, and party, and fiddle.

Pork-Chop on May 13, 2013 at 7:40 PM

Well y’know – maybe if they cut back on the IRS spying on Americans and leaking that information (for personal profit) to political organizations and paying for fake investigations into you tube videos the state would have more money…

Skywise on May 13, 2013 at 7:42 PM

Wait just a second here. Who the hell is Sally Jewel? And when did she replace Ken Salazar?

Key West Reader on May 13, 2013 at 7:43 PM

*voter

CW on May 13, 2013 at 7:44 PM

When was Sally Jewel appointed, who confirmed her and when did this take place?

/Just a dumb country bumpkin lookin for info

Key West Reader on May 13, 2013 at 7:45 PM

Then Obama…
Don’t lower the oceans just yet…

Geez..
/

Electrongod on May 13, 2013 at 7:54 PM

and in the meantime, let’s not forget that it was President Obama who declined to give federal agencies more flexibility with their sequester-spending cuts in order to bring about the most visible consequences possible.

Declined flexibility??

This is reserved for Obama in his second term..

Electrongod on May 13, 2013 at 7:59 PM

Since sequestration is only a reduction of the increase( down from 107% to 105%), that means the discontinuing some of the old spending is to pay for some new spending.

I want to know what new spending is more important than (simply) continuing this part of the old spending?

jhnone on May 13, 2013 at 7:59 PM

There will be a slowdown at the National Parks management for the May long weekend, bet on it.

slickwillie2001 on May 13, 2013 at 7:59 PM

Why doesn’t it mean less I R S, and E P A ?

listens2glenn on May 13, 2013 at 8:01 PM

President pain strikes again.

tom daschle concerned on May 13, 2013 at 8:02 PM

Interior Dept: Sequestration is going to mean less firefighting, you know

Yes and I vaguely remember fk Texas back a few years ago when firefighting planes were not used because of safety contract dispute issues. There was no sequester at that time.
Just like the Russkies made sure the Ukraine was no longer good farmland back in the Uncle Joe days.

arnold ziffel on May 13, 2013 at 8:04 PM

But we can afford millions and millions more illegal immigrants illiterate, unskilled citizens and the foodstamps, welfare, Obamacare, schooling and all the other associated costs.

Nincompoop, please.

M240H on May 13, 2013 at 8:06 PM

Interior Dept: Sequestration is going to mean less firefighting, you know

Fear not. Firefighting in the Glade will not be effected.

-Fire Marshall Spark

SparkPlug on May 13, 2013 at 8:14 PM

And red states like my beautiful Idaho will just burn, baby, burn. Feds, kiss my a$$.

idalily on May 13, 2013 at 8:16 PM

And red states like my beautiful Idaho will just burn, baby, burn. Feds, kiss my a$$.

idalily on May 13, 2013 at 8:16 PM

Move South, ID …
We just get all the smoke..

Electrongod on May 13, 2013 at 8:21 PM

Good. Let them burn. Quit stocking up fuel.

Dry lightning has been around longer than the Feral gubmint.

wolly4321 on May 13, 2013 at 8:23 PM

What you’re not doing is putting the resources in place to thoughtfully manage the landscape for the future.”

That’s ok. God does it for free. It’s called wildfires. It worked since the beginning of time. The happy trees and animals all grew back. Now that man is here, he thinks it is his responsibility to put out fires and manage forests. Just like it is his responsibility to control the climate. Some things are bigger than man. It is easier to live with it than to fruitlessly fight it.

tdarrington on May 13, 2013 at 8:27 PM

Holy crap.

/I’m almost afraid to say anything at this point. And I ain’t no AP.

Did they mean AllahPundit, or the deified AP as in Associated Press?

Key West Reader on May 13, 2013 at 8:29 PM

The DOD commissaries are not having their May case-load sale because of…sequestration! Make the military families feel the pain!

tdarrington on May 13, 2013 at 8:29 PM

Tdarrington-

Yep.

It balances itself.

wolly4321 on May 13, 2013 at 8:31 PM

Did they mean AllahPundit, or the deified AP as in Associated Press?

Key West Reader on May 13, 2013 at 8:29 PM

Associated Press. Kinda surprised as they’ve been lap dogs for O as well as other MSM outlets. Btw, how goes it?

chewmeister on May 13, 2013 at 8:37 PM

First BIG fire, homes going up in smoke. You can bet the last word you’ll hear will be “Sequestration” when folks break out the pitchforks and torches.

GarandFan on May 13, 2013 at 8:38 PM

Doesn’t this just make ya sick and mad!

I wanna smash somthing and hard!

3% of a flucking budget causes so much problems, what the hell are they doing with ALL OUR MONEY?

Scrumpy on May 13, 2013 at 8:51 PM

Since sequestration is only a reduction of the increase( down from 107% to 105%), that means the discontinuing some of the old spending is to pay for some new spending.

I want to know what new spending is more important than (simply) continuing this part of the old spending?

jhnone on May 13, 2013 at 7:59 PM

Worth reiterating, with boldface added for emphasis.

Why wouldn’t we continue to have the same level of fire-fighting capability as last year? The only “cut” made by the sequester was $1 out of every $6 of discretionary spending increases since 2008.

This guts our ability to fight wildfires?

de rigueur on May 13, 2013 at 9:38 PM

Maybe if all the useless under-secretaries in Washington with all their perks were fired, then there would be a whole lot more money for hiring firefighters. The problem is not a shortage of money, it is a shortage sound management.

bartbeast on May 13, 2013 at 9:47 PM

Simply disband the Bureau of Indian Affairs. They are worthless and have done little to protect Native Americans.

originalpechanga on May 13, 2013 at 7:34 PM

That sad excuse for an office should have been dissolved yesterday if not sooner. A good many of the people they ostensibly protect would very much like to play William Tell with the apple taped to their chest.

MelonCollie on May 13, 2013 at 10:02 PM

Maybe if all the useless under-secretaries in Washington with all their perks were fired, then there would be a whole lot more money for hiring firefighters. The problem is not a shortage of money, it is a shortage sound management.

bartbeast on May 13, 2013 at 9:47 PM

Let’s also lay off any government employee with ‘diversity’ in their job title.

slickwillie2001 on May 13, 2013 at 10:26 PM

Forest fires are a natural part of the ecological process… Long before we were here fires raged and forests were born anew. Long after we are gone it will continue. Don’t build a house in the forest if you don’t want it to eventually burn down to the ground.

I design homes for a living…You want a home in an extreme location… Prepare for extreme problems.

Kaptain Amerika on May 13, 2013 at 10:41 PM

Nobody wants to know about it, but there is a long-term fire danger in the San Francisco Bay Area that exists, in great part, to the fact that the DOI (in the form of NPS/Golden Gate National Recreation Area) is an instigator through the purchases and additions of particularly moribund and unkempt, dangerous stands of eucalyptus adjacent to the only water supply to 6 million people in the region:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B5e4vAcUpKHraC1MNjh1YU1ZSG8/edit?usp=sharing

Shaughnessy on May 13, 2013 at 10:44 PM

I believe that I read that our foreign aid programs are exempt from sequestration. Am I wrong about that? If I am right, I can’t understand why that isn’t thrown in the face of these politicians more often.

Paco on May 14, 2013 at 8:40 AM

Hard to believe that 3% of the budget paid for so many vital services.

myiq2xu on May 13, 2013 at 7:35 PM

You are absolutely right! We should instruct our congressmen to restore the 3% and eliminate the other 97%. Who’s up for that?

Old Country Boy on May 14, 2013 at 2:59 PM