Impacts of budget reductions on fire program of USFWS


USFWSThe impacts of the sequestration budget reductions on the wildland fire program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may be just another in a series of past and future hits affecting the agency. In the last few days their Washington office has been distributing more details to the field about what to expect. We obtained the information below from someone who is not authorized to speak for the agency, therefore we are not able to disclose the person’s name.

  • The FWS fire program was told to assume their budget will be 5.1% less than the initial draft allocations due to sequestration, but that could change.
  • Fire employees may be assigned to other accounts to make up for shortfalls in fire budgets in order to avoid furloughs.
  • At least some FWS Regions should be able to absorb a 5.1% decrease with no furloughs necessary because of the cuts they made previously.
  • At this time it doesn’t appear likely that anyone in the FWS fire program will be furloughed.
  • Some of those in the higher levels of the agency are thinking that a “workforce reduction” may be required later. They may have to cut back on positions and/or conduct directed reassignments to prepare for future budget reductions.
  • The cuts the agency absorbed previously, before sequestration, have already created significant adverse impacts on their fire management capabilities.
  • There could be additional reductions when or if the Continuing Resolution budget is passed in the next couple of months.
  • Decisions on whether to stop conducting prescribed fire and fuels treatment projects will be up to each region.
  • Some regions have issued a moratorium on all prescribed burning.
  • Decisions on whether to hire fire-funded seasonals will be up to each region.
  • Required training can still occur, but no other training will be allowed.
  • Sequestration could be a “walk in the park” compared to future possible budget cuts.
  • Some were told, “It’s OK to do less with less. Don’t feel you have to knock yourselves out working hours of comp. time trying to maintain the level of performance you were able to do previously.” And, “Don’t let all the distractions going on right now interfere with your focus on safety.”

More information at Wildfire Today about the recent budget reductions in the federal wildland fire agencies:


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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.