Forest Service: FY2021 Appropriations

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September 1, 2020
Forest Service: FY2021 Appropriations
The Forest Service (FS) is responsible for managing 193
adjustment, for a total request of $7.385 billion. The request
million acres of land in the National Forest System (NFS);
reflected increases for some FS accounts and decreases for
conducting forestry research; and providing assistance to
others, including no funding for one account (see Table 1).
state, local, private, and international forest owners. FS is
an agency within the Department of Agriculture, but it
FY2021 Discretionary Appropriations
receives discretionary appropriations through the Interior,
The House Committee on Appropriations reported H.R.
Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill.
7612 on July 14, 2020. The measure was incorporated into
Division C of H.R. 7608, which passed the House on July
For FY2020, Congress appropriated $7.504 billion in total
24, 2020. Not including the wildfire adjustment, the House-
FY2020 discretionary appropriations for FS, including
passed bill would provide $5.517 billion for FS, an increase
$5.483 billion in regular funding (P.L. 116-94); $70.8
of $33.3 million (+1%) from the regular-enacted
million in emergency-designated supplemental funding to
appropriation for FY2020 and a decrease of $37.5 million
address issues related to the Coronavirus Disease 2019
(-1%) from the FY2020 total enacted figure. The bill would
(COVID-19) pandemic (P.L. 116-136); and $1.950 billion
provide $171.9 million (+3%) more than the
pursuant to the wildfire adjustment (P.L. 116-94), discussed
Administration-requested amount. The bill also would
below. For more information on FY2020 appropriations,
provide an additional $2.040 billion pursuant to the wildfire
see CRS In Focus IF11416, Forest Service: FY2019 and
adjustment, for a total of $7.557 billion. The bill specified
FY2020 Appropriations.
that appropriations to most FS accounts are to remain
available through FY2024.
FY2021 Discretionary Appropriations
Forest Service Appropriation Accounts
Budget Request
FS has six primary discretionary appropriations accounts,
The Trump Administration requested $5.345 billion in
discussed below, generally in order of decreasing funding.
FY2021 discretionary appropriations for FS, not including
In addition to those six accounts, FS has several other
the wildfire adjustment. This would be a decrease of $138.6
relatively small accounts. These accounts are combined into
million (-3%) from the regular-enacted appropriations for
an “Other” category for this report.
FY2020 and a decrease of $209.4 million (-4%) from the

FY2020 total enacted figure. The Administration also
requested an additional $2.040 billion through the wildfire
Table 1. Forest Service (FS) Discretionary Appropriations, by Account ($ in millions)

House-passed H.R. 7608
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 Division D; P.L. 116-136 Title VII; FY2021 FS Budget Justification; and H.R. 7608.
Notes: Suppl. = supplemental appropriations. Figures reflect rescissions and deferrals. Column totals may not add due to rounding.
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
Forest Legacy Program (FLP), a cost-share grant program
The largest share of FS appropriations generally goes to the
that received discretionary appropriations from the Land
Wildland Fire Management (WFM) account. The WFM
and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF; 54 U.S.C. §§200301
appropriation funds two programs: preparedness and
et seq.). The GAOA made the LWCF mandatory spending.
suppression. Appropriations for preparedness are used to
The House-passed bill did not include funding for FLP,
support efforts that assist with fire prevention and detection,
with the expectation of mandatory funding under the
equipment, training, and baseline personnel. Appropriations
GAOA starting in FY2021.
for suppression are used primarily for wildfire response.
This includes firefighter salaries, aviation asset operations,
Forest and Rangeland Research
and incident support functions, as well as personnel and
The Forest and Rangeland Research (FRR) account funds
resources for post-fire analysis and recovery.
research and development efforts to provide scientific
information and new technologies to support sustainable
Prior to FY2018, however, WFM included funding for
forest and rangeland management. FRR funds the Forest
programs such as Hazardous Fuels, Cooperative Fire
Inventory and Analysis program, which is a continuous
Assistance, and fire science and research. Starting in
census of the forest resources throughout the United States.
FY2018, these programs have been funded through other
accounts, as described below. In addition, FS used to
Land Acquisition
receive appropriations for suppression purposes to the
In FY2020, the Land Acquisition (LA) account received
FLAME wildfire suppression reserve account. FY2018 was
funds derived from the LWCF for FS to acquire lands for
the last year the FLAME account received appropriations.
conservation or ownership consolidation, among other
purposes. The House-passed bill did not include funding for
Wildfire Adjustment/Wildfire Funding Fix
LA, with the expectation of mandatory funding under the
Starting in FY2020, additional funds for suppression
GAOA starting in FY2021.
operations are available to FS (and the Department of the
Interior) pursuant to the wildfire adjustment, a budgetary
mechanism established in P.L. 115-141 (Division O,
Other includes several smaller appropriations accounts for
§102(a)), commonly referred to as the wildfire funding fix.
specified land acquisition activities; the Range Betterment
This mechanism allows Congress to provide additional
Fund; gifts, donations, and bequests for research;
funding above a specified baseline for wildfire suppression
management of national forest lands for subsistence uses;
through an adjustment to the discretionary spending limit.
and, beginning FY2020, communication site administration.
The baseline is the 10-year suppression obligation average,
as reported in FY2015 ($1.011 billion for FS). The
Forest Service Budget Restructuring
maximum amount available pursuant to the adjustment
In response to congressional direction to improve FS
starts at $1.950 billion for FS in FY2020 and increases
accounting, budgeting, and management practices, the
annually. The wildfire adjustment is available from FY2020
Administration requested a budgetary restructuring in
through FY2027, although the statutory limits for
FY2020 to establish a FS general management
discretionary spending are currently in effect through
appropriations account. This account would have replaced
FS’s practice of using cost pools from each account to pay
for certain fixed costs and administrative expenses. Both
National Forest System
the House- and Senate-passed versions of the FY2020
The National Forest System (NFS) account funds activities
Interior appropriations bill would have established a Forest
related to the management of the national forests and
Service Operations (FSO) account. The FY2020
grasslands, including planning, recreation, grazing, timber
appropriations law directed the Secretary of Agriculture to
production, watershed, wildlife, and law enforcement,
establish an FSO account no later than October 1, 2020, and
among other activities. Starting in FY2018, funding for the
to submit a report to the House Appropriations Committees
Hazardous Fuels program has been provided through the
no later than November 1, 2020, detailing the account
NFS account.
adjustments (P.L. 116-94, Division D, §435).
Capital Improvement and Maintenance
For FY2021, the House Appropriations Committee
The Capital Improvement and Maintenance (CIM) account
indicated continued support for the restructuring (H.Rept.
funds FS efforts to provide and maintain facilities, roads,
116-448) but noted that there was not sufficient information
trails, and other infrastructure needs across the national
to implement the changes at the time of consideration of the
forest system. This includes funding to address a backlog of
FY2021 appropriations.
deferred maintenance (DM). Starting in FY2021, FS is set
to receive additional funding to address DM through a new
In addition to this restructuring, the FS budget structure has
mandatory fund established by the Great American
changed other times, including in FY2018. These changes
Outdoors Act (GAOA; P.L. 116-152).
may improve congressional oversight moving forward but
may make examining funding trends over time more
State and Private Forestry
The State and Private Forestry (SPF) account funds
programs to provide assistance to nonfederal forest owners
Katie Hoover, Specialist in Natural Resources Policy
to protect forests from wildfires, insects, diseases, and
invasive plants. In FY2020, SPF included funding for the

Forest Service: FY2021 Appropriations

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