In addition, the FLAME wildfire suppression reserve fund will be cut by 8.2 percent, meaning it would not be funded at the 10-year average, greatly increasing the risk of funding shortfalls, as occurred in fiscal year 2012 which ended September 30. Such a shortfall would impact more than just the fire programs. With no carryover funds and a cut in the FLAME reserve fund, the wildland fire agencies in the Departments of Interior and Agriculture would need to take funds from other accounts to make up the firefighting shortfall.
Under the Budget Control Act, the sequestration would result in a 9.4 percent reduction in non-exempt defense discretionary funding and an 8.2 percent reduction in non-exempt nondefense discretionary funding. The sequestration would also impose cuts of 2.0 percent to Medicare, 7.6 percent to other non-exempt nondefense mandatory programs, and 10.0 percent to non-exempt defense mandatory programs.
Most of the federal wildland fire appropriations will be subject to an 8.2 percent reduction since they are considered “discretionary”.
A report, prepared by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), revealed the following cuts to wildland fire budgets that will be effective January 2, 2013; the numbers do not include the FLAME fire suppression accounts:
- US Forest Service Wildland Fire Management: $172 million
- Department of Interior Wildland Fire Management: $46 million
The OMB report said the major budget reductions were never intended to be implemented, and were supposed to to drive both political parties to reach a compromise on more sane budget cuts. The OMB said: “The Administration strongly believes that sequestration is bad policy, and that Congress can and should take action to avoid it by passing a comprehensive and balanced deficit reduction package.”
At a meeting on forest health Friday in Denver, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said, “If Congress fails to act before the end of the year, the sequester that Congress has triggered will go into effect. That will result in every line item of virtually every aspect of USDA being cut by at least 8.2%, that’s every line item, no ability to transfer or prioritize the cuts.”