Forests’ funds to be diverted to firefighting
More than $1 million allocated for Fremont-Winema National Forests fire prevention and recreation projects will be used to pay for national firefighting efforts.
The Forest Service is transferring a total of $400 million from operations nationwide to pay for crews and equipment for California firefighting efforts. The money will be added to the agency’s $1.2 billion annual firefighting budget.
Officials from the Fremont-Winema, which spans 2.3-million acres in Klamath and Lake counties, said they will postpone hazardous fuels reduction projects and road and facility maintenance to accommodate the transfer of the $1.02 million, about half of 1 percent of this fiscal year’s $23 million budget.
“The fire transfer has a significant effect on the forests’ 2008 program work, especially in recreation,” said Fremont-Winema National supervisor Karen Shimamoto. “… A lot of our funds were not affected due to the staff’s proactive efforts to commit funds early in the fiscal year.”
Three projects at Lake of the Woods, a popular camping and boating area, have been cancelled along with projects at Fourmile Lake, Silver Creek Marsh and Dog Lake campgrounds, East Bay Campground and Lofton Reservoir.
A major portion of the $1 million will come from funds budgeted for fire prevention efforts. Shimamoto said five thinning and fuels treatment projects have been canceled and that $380,000 worth of hazardous fuels reducing, slash-busting and thinning projects also were shelved.
A memo last month from Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell said about $ 30 million nationwide will come from fire prevention accounts. Federal law requires that money be transferred from fire accounts before other programs.
Shimamoto said the the Fremont-Winema will make up the rest through salary savings due to off forest fire assignments and leaving position unfilled.
Projects left undone
Fremont-Winema National Forests projects that will not be accomplished, with cost estimates where available, because of the fire funds transfer include: n Hazardous fuels reduction, slashbusting, thinning: $380,000. n Five thinning and fuels treatment projects. n Meadow restoration to enhance elk habitat: $24,000. n Road and facility maintenance: $217,000. n Repair three areas on Forest Service Road 28. n Replace toilet floor and add accessible concrete ramp on dock abutment at East Bay Campground and boat launch. n Replace barn foundation at the Lake of the Woods. n Replace boat ramp abutment at Aspen Point at Lake of the Woods. n Repair host site sewer inlet at Rainbow Bay at Lake of the Woods. n Well repair at Silver Creek Marsh and Dog Lake campgrounds. n Construct accessible site at Fourmile Lake Campground. n Rebuild Lofton Reservoir fishing dock. n Removal of deteriorated leaking pit toilets at six recreation areas.