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Former Forest Service Chief Disappointed with Budget Moves

February 25, 2011

HELENA, Mont. - Camping, hunting and hiking experiences in Montana would likely change if Forest Service budget cuts under the House Republican budget proposal became final, according to a former Forest Service chief who lives in Montana.

Dale Bosworth is questioning the decisions because he says the programs targeted for cuts are associated with things well-loved and appreciated by the public.

"Clean water: 50 percent of drinking water come off National Forest land. Road maintenance. Trail maintenance. Campgrounds. Habitat improvement for things like elk and deer."

Cuts targeting the Forest Service have been part of a long-term trend, Bosworth says, and are hamstringing the agency's ability to do its job to keep forests healthy and accessible.

"What I'm really concerned about on this is that the Forest Service has been so underfunded for so long, and now, looking at more reductions, they're just not going to be able to meet the expectations of people."

He's hopeful that the U.S. Senate will find ways to reverse the budget squeeze on national forests and bolster programs that promote collaboration in problem-solving, forest restoration work and rural jobs. Bosworth adds that the House Appropriations Subcommittee chairman, Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, did help limit some of the proposed cuts.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - MT