Despite being “unhappy,” President Donald Trump has signed the $1.3 trillion Omnibus spending bill Friday night, after earlier threatening to veto the measure because it did not include funding for his promised but controversial wall on the U.S. Mexico border.
The bill includes long-sought funding to fix the fire-borrowing mess that has plagued the U.S. Forest Service for years. Heretofore, Congress has forced the beleaguered agency to “borrow” money from its forest management budgets to pay its firefighting bills, thus undermining forest restoration projects that would reduce the risk of wildfire.
The President’s threatened veto had nothing to do with the plight of our National Forests. In fact, he seems to have some awareness of their critical importance to the economies and lifestyles of the third of the nation that lives along the West Coast and in the Intermountain West.
The budget priority debates between western solons who supported fixing the fire borrowing mess, and eastern delegations who aren’t aware of our forest health-wildfire crisis or have opposing environmental agendas, illustrates how difficult it is to affect positive federal forest policy change. Praise is due the West’s House and Senate delegations and the West’s Governors.