Forest Service Chief to testify before Congress June 9

He may be asked questions about implementing the firefighter pay raises signed into law 8 months ago

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US Capitol
US Capitol. Photo by Bill Gabbert.

Forest Service Chief Randy Moore is scheduled to testify Thursday June 9 at 10 a.m. EDT before the full Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. It will be live streamed, and a link will likely appear on the Committee’s website.

The primary purpose of the hearing is to examine the President’s budget request for the U.S. Forest Service for Fiscal Year 2023 which begins in October.

Forest Service Chief Randy Moore, May 5, 2022
Forest Service Chief Randy Moore testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee, May 5, 2022.

There is no doubt that some of the Senators will use the opportunity to question Chief Moore about the progress, or lack thereof, to implement the firefighter pay raises signed into law by President Biden eight months ago as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Senators on the committee who usually appear to be engaged on these topics, often asking pointed questions of Forest Service personnel, include Ron Wyden (OR), Maria Cantwell (WA), Angus King (ME), and Lisa Murkowski (AK). I watch many hearings about fire management issues. I don’t take attendance, but have no memory of ever seeing some of the committee members show up, such as Bernard Sanders (VT), Mark Kelly (AZ), or Cindy Hyde-Smith (MS). I may have just missed them on days when they made important contributions.

The Chief’s written testimony for Thursday’s hearing is already posted. Below is an excerpt in which he mentions fire funding.

  • $321 million for hazardous fuels reduction, which will allow the agency to mitigate wildfire risk on 3.8 million acres in high priority and high-risk areas. This investment builds on the hazardous fuels funding the Forest Service will receive through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act in 2023 and supports the objectives of the agency’s 10-year wildfire crisis strategy.
  • $1.15 billion for Wildland Fire Management Salaries and Expenses to fund additional firefighters and firefighting support personnel and support this Administration’s direction that all firefighters receive a minimum wage of $15 per hour. This increased workforce capacity will enhance year-round fire response and hazardous fuels reduction activity and allow the Forest Service to continue important investments that support the health, well-being, and resilience of the agency’s wildland firefighting force.
  • $1.68 billion for National Forest System Salaries and Expenses. Funding will strengthen areas needed to support the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the agency’s 10-year wildfire crisis strategy, and the Great American Outdoors Act. This funding will also help the agency bolster capacity in critical non-fire programs, which have lost staffing in recent years, and thereby enhance social and economic benefits to the American public.

The Forest Service’s 223-page Budget Justification for FY 2023 goes into more detail.

Chief Moore already went through this exercise before the House Committee on Appropriations on April 27, 2022 and the Senate Committee on Appropriations May 4, 2022.

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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.

17 thoughts on “Forest Service Chief to testify before Congress June 9”

  1. Bet the roulette wheels are spinning at Las Vegas

    Bettin on NOTHING happens

  2. Man, the DOI agencies are sure getting a free pass from all the congressional scrutiny, surely they are screwing up at-least as bad as USFS.

  3. Oh you can bet they are and they are just fine using the FS as radar chaff!!!

  4. “Randy skis in jeans”, Now that is downright hilarious! I just about shot water out of my nose….. thanks for that, a bright spot in my day. 🙂

  5. I’ve already built this up way too much in my head but I still wish I had some some popcorn for it.

  6. Randy is still gonna testify that we’re 90% staffed… Not understanding why they’re putting their foot down on these numbers. The reporting from BuzzFeed, Marketplace and others has shown they are more like 73% staffed.

    The senators know, so it’s just comical to watch this stuff play out

  7. What he means is that we are staffed 90% of the time 70% of the time.

  8. WILDLAND FIRE MANAGEMENT is less staffed than the National Forest System??

    WILDLAND FIRE MANAGEMENT is the LARGEST organization in the USFS.

    Line officers making the rules over and over again. WFM or FIRE has NO VOICE in the USFS. Wake up America.

    Budget cuts or less staffing happening somewhere. Go contractors and CAL FIRE.

  9. Watched it! Number one concern was capacity. They talked about it a lot! Second, was the backlog. Very interesting comment was about how the budget (for backlog) requested by the FS was lower than in previous years. So, the question was how are you going to get it done with less money? Many of the Congress men and women were upst with Randy. (So that was kinda fun to watch.) The number one thing that I got out of it was when Randy promised that the firefighters would see their raise by the end of this month. There was a lot of talk about the NM fires…and models. As an Air Quality Specialist that peaked my interest. But, 4 Fry was also discussed, 10 year strategic plan, satellite imagery, air resources, GPS and safety equipment for firefighters. The hearing was interesting. It will be more interesting to see if Randy does what he promised.

  10. Oh, oh, and they talked about how fires are different this year, which I have to disagree, but whatever.

  11. Senator King thanks for stating how to simplify the geographic area for retention and recruitment. Although I know your assessment will not be the reality.

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