Forest Service: FY2021 Appropriations

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Updated February 18, 2021
Forest Service: FY2021 Appropriations
The Forest Service (FS) is responsible for managing 193
wildfire adjustment (P.L. 116-260). The law specified that
million acres of land in the National Forest System (NFS);
appropriations to most FS accounts are to remain available
conducting forestry research; and providing assistance to
through FY2024. It included decreases for all FS accounts
state, local, private, and international forest owners. FS is
as compared with the regular-enacted FY2020
an agency within the Department of Agriculture, but it
appropriations, in part due to a budget restructuring and
receives discretionary appropriations through the Interior,
because some activities that previously were funded
Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill.
through discretionary appropriations received mandatory
appropriations under the Great American Outdoors Act
FY2021 Discretionary Appropriations
(GAOA; P.L. 116-152), enacted August 4, 2020.
Budget Request
In earlier action, the House Committee on Appropriations
The Trump Administration requested $5.345 billion in
reported H.R. 7612 on July 14, 2020. The measure was
FY2021 discretionary appropriations for FS, not including
incorporated into Division C of H.R. 7608, which passed
the wildfire adjustment. This would have been a decrease of
the House on July 24, 2020. Because regular FY2021
$138.6 million (-3%) from the regular-enacted
appropriations were not enacted by the start of the fiscal
appropriations for FY2020 and a decrease of $209.4 million
year, several continuing resolutions provided funding at
(-4%) from the FY2020 total enacted figure. The Trump
FY2020 levels before enactment of P.L. 116-260 on
Administration also requested an additional $2.040 billion
December 27, 2020.
through the wildfire adjustment, for a total request of
$7.385 billion. The request reflected increases for some FS
Forest Service Appropriation Accounts
accounts and decreases for others, including no funding for
Starting in FY2021, FS has seven primary discretionary
one account (see Table 1).
appropriations accounts, discussed below, generally in
order of decreasing funding. This includes a new Forest
FY2021 Enacted Appropriations
Service Operations account established in FY2021. In
Congress appropriated $7.424 billion in total FY2021
addition to those seven accounts, FS has several other
discretionary appropriations for FS, including $5.384
relatively small accounts. These accounts are combined into
billion in regular funding and $2.040 billion pursuant to the
an “Other” category for this report.
Table 1. Forest Service (FS) Discretionary Appropriations, by Account ($ in millions)

H.R. 7608
Forest Service Operations (FSO)

Forest and Rangeland Research (FRR)
State and Private Forestry (SPF)

National Forest System (NFS)
Capital Improvement & Maintenance (CIM)
Land Acquisition (LA)

Wildland Fire Management (WFM)
Wildfire Adjustment

Total WFM

Total, without wildfire adjustment
Total, with wildfire adjustment
Sources: P.L. 116-94; P.L. 116-136; FY2021 FS Budget Justification; H.R. 7608 (116th Congress); and P.L. 116-260.
Notes: Suppl. = supplemental appropriations. Figures reflect rescissions and deferrals. Column totals may not add due to rounding. The FSO
account was established in P.L. 116-260.
This row includes total appropriations for several smal accounts, including specified land acquisitions; Range Betterment Fund; gifts,
donations, and bequests for research; management of lands for subsistence uses; and communication site administration.

Forest Service: FY2021 Appropriations
Wildland Fire Management
additional funding to address DM through a new mandatory
The largest share of FS appropriations generally goes to the
fund established by GAOA. P.L. 116-260 and the
Wildland Fire Management (WFM) account. The WFM
accompanying explanatory statement (ES) provided for an
appropriation funds two programs: preparedness and
allocation from the fund of $285.0 million in mandatory
suppression. Appropriations for preparedness are used to
spending for FS DM.
support efforts that assist with fire prevention and detection,
equipment, and training. Appropriations for suppression are
State and Private Forestry
used primarily for wildfire response. This includes
The State and Private Forestry (SPF) account funds
firefighter salaries, aviation asset operations, and incident
programs to provide assistance to nonfederal forest owners
support functions, as well as personnel and resources for
to protect forests from wildfires, insects, diseases, and
post-fire analysis and recovery.
invasive plants. In FY2020, SPF included funding for the
Forest Legacy Program (FLP), a cost-share grant program
Prior to FY2018, however, WFM included funding for
that received discretionary appropriations from the Land
programs such as Hazardous Fuels, Cooperative Fire
and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF; 54 U.S.C. §§200301
Assistance, and fire science and research. Starting in
et seq.). The GAOA made the LWCF mandatory spending.
FY2018, these programs have been funded through other
Accordingly, Congress did not include discretionary
accounts, as described below. In addition, FS used to
funding for FLP in FY2021, but P.L. 116-260 and the
receive appropriations for suppression purposes to the
accompanying ES provided for an allocation of $94.3
FLAME wildfire suppression reserve account. FY2018 was
million in mandatory funding.
the last year the FLAME account received appropriations.
Forest and Rangeland Research
Wildfire Adjustment/Wildfire Funding Fix
The Forest and Rangeland Research (FRR) account funds
Starting in FY2020, additional funds for suppression
research and development efforts to provide scientific
operations are available to FS (and the Department of the
information and new technologies to support sustainable
Interior) pursuant to the wildfire adjustment, a budgetary
forest and rangeland management. FRR funds the Forest
mechanism established in P.L. 115-141 (Division O,
Inventory and Analysis program, which is a continuous
§102(a)), commonly referred to as the wildfire funding fix.
census of the forest resources throughout the United States.
This mechanism allows Congress to provide additional
funding above a specified baseline for wildfire suppression
Land Acquisition
through an adjustment to the statutory limit on total
Prior to FY2021, the Land Acquisition (LA) account
discretionary spending. The baseline is the 10-year
received discretionary funds derived from the LWCF for FS
suppression obligation average, as reported in FY2015
to acquire lands for conservation or ownership
($1.011 billion for FS). The maximum amount available
consolidation, among other purposes. Congress did not
pursuant to the adjustment was $2.040 billion for FS in
provide discretionary funding for LA in FY2021 and
FY2021 and increases annually. The wildfire adjustment is
rescinded any unobligated balances remaining in the
available annually through FY2027, although the statutory
account. However, P.L. 116-260 and the accompanying ES
limits for discretionary spending are currently in effect
provided for an allocation of $123.9 million in mandatory
through FY2021.
funding for FY2021, under the authority in GAOA.
National Forest System
The National Forest System (NFS) account funds activities
Other includes several smaller appropriations accounts for
related to the management of the national forests and
specified land acquisition activities; the Range Betterment
grasslands, including planning, recreation, grazing, timber
Fund; gifts, donations, and bequests for research;
production, watershed, wildlife, and law enforcement,
management of national forest lands for subsistence uses;
among other activities. Starting in FY2018, funding for the
and communication site administration.
Hazardous Fuels program has been provided through the
NFS account.
Forest Service Budget Restructuring
The budgetary restructuring established in the FY2021
Forest Service Operations
appropriations law comes in response to congressional
Established in FY2021, the Forest Service Operations
direction to improve FS accounting, budgeting, and
(FSO) account funds certain fixed costs and administrative
management practices. In addition to the establishment of
expenses related to facilities maintenance and leasing,
the FSO account, the FY2021 appropriations law modified
information technology, and other agency-wide
the FS’s existing appropriations accounts by establishing a
organizational services. Prior to FY2021, many of these
budget line item for salaries and expenses in the FSO, FRR,
activities were funded through FS’s practice of using cost
SPF, NFS, and WFM accounts. Congress previously
pools from the other accounts.
enacted changes to the FS budget structure (e.g., in
FY2018). Budgetary changes may improve congressional
Capital Improvement and Maintenance
oversight moving forward but may make examining
The Capital Improvement and Maintenance (CIM) account
funding trends over time more challenging.
funds FS efforts to provide and maintain facilities, roads,
trails, and other infrastructure needs across the national
Katie Hoover, Specialist in Natural Resources Policy
forest system. This includes funding to address a backlog of
deferred maintenance (DM). In FY2021, FS received

Forest Service: FY2021 Appropriations

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