Foresters Disappointed in President’s FY19 Budget
State foresters express disappointment in president’s FY19 budget
WASHINGTON—The National Association of State Foresters is extremely disappointed in President Donald Trump’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 budget recommendations, which include deep cuts to the state and private forestry programs that support comprehensive, cost-effective forest management across all forestland ownerships to the benefit of all Americans.
“State and private forestry programs like Landscape Scale Restoration, Forest Legacy, and Urban and Community Forestry—all of which would be zeroed out by the president’s plan—ensure that 1,000s of communities nationwide have clean water and air, strong local economies, and healthy landscapes,” said George Geissler, NASF president and Oklahoma state forester. “The State and Volunteer Fire Assistance programs, which help protect millions of Americans, their homes, and communities every year from wildfire, would be cut by almost a fifth if the president’s recommendations were instituted.”
“America’s trees and forests are facing real, boundary-less challenges from threats such as catastrophic wildfire, invasive pests, and disease,” Geissler continued. “Strong investments in state and private forests are needed more than ever to protect and enhance the many public benefits they provide for many years to come. The nation’s 59 state and territorial foresters are afraid this budget doesn’t just fall short—it’s short-sighted.”
Another critical forestry program cut by the Trump administration’s FY19 budget is the Forest Stewardship program, which helps provide forestry technical assistance to communities throughout America, including more than 300,000 landowners annually. Many of these forest landowners rely on the forest products industry, which in the United States is larger than the motor vehicles and parts manufacturing sector, as a significant source of income. These landowners also contribute to America’s bountiful wood supply, of which nearly 90 percent comes from private and state-owned forests.
“The president’s proposal would be a detriment to the American people, especially rural communities that depend on the jobs provided by the forest products industry,” said Jay Farrell, NASF executive director. “Given the president’s declarations of support for small town America, the nation’s state and territorial foresters expected more. If the administration truly supports rural America, it should fund the state and private forestry programs vital to its survival.”
Although disheartened by the president’s budget, NASF was encouraged to hear Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue say in a release today that 25 percent of the president’s future infrastructure investments would be made in rural America. The association is hopeful those investments will support America’s trees, forests, and rural communities.