Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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Federal agencies await budget news
Cuts expected by many offices
by ELON GLUCKLICH and SARA HOTTMAN, Herald and News 4/27/11
Federal agencies in the Klamath Basin are getting ready to tighten their belts on the heels of President Barack Obama’s proposed 2012 budget.
The budget, which would take effect Oct. 1 if implemented, proposes cuts to numerous federal departments, including the U.S. Forest Service and Department of the Interior agencies, Bureau of Land Management and Bureau of Reclamation. And departments such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, slated for a modest budget increase, are rethinking the way they provide services.
While it’s likely the House of Representatives and Senate will modify the president’s proposal in coming months, some local managers of federal offices expect to have less money to work with in the coming years.
“This is a budget scenario that’s going to play out for probably many (budget) cycles,” said Ron Cole, refuge manager at the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges Complex, a Fish and Wildlife service.
U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation will face a $108 million cut to its budget as its parent agency, the Department of the Interior, absorbs a $72 million cut in the president’s proposed fiscal year 2012 budget. Several agencies in the Department of Interior will see their budgets increase.
The Interior’s nearly $12.1 billion budget is divided among nine agencies and other costs, including land settlement payments. Interior agencies that operate locally include the Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Geological Survey, National Parks Service, and Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Reclamation overall will work with a proposed $805.2 million budget, allotting a proposed $192 million to the Mid-Pacific Region, which includes the Klamath Reclamation Project, the Central Valley Project in California, and the Newlands Project in Nevada. That allocation is down $27 million from this year.
Under that plan, the Klamath Project would experience a $3.9 million cut from this year’s budget level.
However, Don Glaser, regional director of the Mid-Pacific Region, said the Bureau considers the region a high priority.
Last month, when the federal government was still operating on continuing budget resolutions, which cut Department of the Interior funding with each continuance, Glaser told Klamath Project growers the Bureau was aware of their needs.
“Every other region in Reclamation took cuts in 2011 so that high priority projects in the Mid-Pacific Region were funded,” he said, adding, “Secretary Salazar is committed to finding solutions to water-related conflicts in the Central Valley and the Klamath Basin.”
U.S. Forest Service
The U.S. Forest Service would receive $5.1 billion for 2012 under the president’s proposed budget. That is down $178 million from what was proposed for 2011, and it means forest service agencies around the country could operate with fewer resources in the coming year.
It’s still uncertain what impact the proposed budget would have on local forest service agencies. Spokeswoman Erica Hupp with the Fremont-Winema National Forest said the department hasn’t yet received any budget or the budget paperwork that will allow it to target certain reductions in this budget year.
“We don’t have any budget numbers,” Hupp said. “We’re still waiting to hear from our regional office” in Portland.
Bureau of Land Management
The president’s 2012 budget contains $1.13 billion for Bureau of Land Management operations nationwide. It’s a $12 million decrease from the 2011 budget.
Assuming those figures don’t change dramatically, local agencies like the Lakeview BLM office will work in the next year with a flat budget, if not a slight decrease.
Scott Stoffel, spokesman with the Lakeview BLM office, said the Bureau is “currently in the process of analyzing” what the proposed budget would mean for the agency on a local level. There’s still a fair deal of uncertainty in the budget, he said, but added the Bureau would accept whatever budget figure was reached.
“We support the president’s budget,” Stoffel said. “And we’re ready to work within the (allotted) funding levels.”
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is slated for $1.7 billion in 2012 under the president’s proposed budget. The figure represents a $47.9 million increase over the service’s current budget.
But local fish and wildlife agencies aren’t likely to see any increases any time soon.
“We’ll probably have some diminished budgets” in the coming years, said Ron Cole, refuge manager at the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges Complex, a Fish and Wildlife service. “We’ll have to focus on what our core principals are, what the public really needs the most, and focus on delivering those core products.”
Cole said specifics haven’t yet been targeted to narrow down the service’s budget. But, he said, he wouldn’t be surprised to see fewer employees budgeted for the wildlife refuge and other Fish and Wildlife agencies.
“I can see maybe that we’re going to be going back to having a workforce that’s smaller, and has hopefully a broader foundation of expertise,” he said.
Page Updated: Thursday April 28, 2011 02:48 AM Pacific
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