NH forest programs face ax with federal budget cuts

New Hampshireforest programs face ax with federal budget cuts

19 March 2008

published by www.unionleader.com

New Hampshire, USA — President George Bush’s 2009 budget proposal cuts deepinto forest and conservation programs but U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg R-NH, said hewill work to keep the ax from falling.

The President’s budget nationwide proposes:

  • a 76 percent reduction in the Forest Legacy program, which pays for conservation easements on industrial lands that could otherwise be developed;
  • an 83 percent reduction in a program that helps landowners manage their lands;
  • a 23 percent cut in state fire assistance, and a 15 percent cut in volunteer fire assistance programs;
  • and an 82 percent cut in technical assistance programs for private land owners.

It could not come at a worse time, said state forester Phil Bryce.

“These cuts come at a time where we are facing ongoing threats to ourforests from invasive pests, threats to our communities from wildland fire,conversion of forestland and corresponding rural character of our communities,and unprecedented pressures on our forest products industry,” said Bryce,director of the state division of Forests and Lands.

“This is at the same time our forests have been identified as playing akey role in responding to global climate change,” Bryce said. Many of theprograms being cut, he said “serve as the cornerstone of the state’sabilities to assist private landowners and communities in the stewardship andprotection of our forests.”

Gregg, as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has beensuccessful at stemming some of the losses.

Bryce said the cuts will have a tremendous impact on the Northern Forest,which includes 26 million wooded acres from New York to Maine in the state’snorthern half.

The contribution of forest-based manufacturing and forest-related recreationand tourism to the New Hampshire economy is more than $2.3 billion a year or anaverage of $475 per acre annually, according to the North East State ForestersAssociation.

One of the programs facing the deepest cut is the Forest Stewardship Program,which promotes a forest stewardship ethic “that serves our citizens,tourists, forest products industry, and protects wildlife habitat, water qualityand other environmental values,” said Bryce.

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