- No mas: Principal bans Spanish language in intercom announcement
- Hacking software could put ‘zombie drone army’ in user’s hands
- Support for stricter gun laws drops: poll
- 10 whales dead, 41 others stranded in Everglades
- John Boehner faces bipartisan pressure to allow gay-rights vote
- Martin Bashir resigns from MSNBC over ‘ill-judged’ comments about Sarah Palin
- Rep. Duncan Hunter: While Obama prays for Iranian change, U.S. should ready its nukes
- Best company ever? Veteran Beer Co. exists to employ vets, provide quality beer
- Iran official: Sanctions ‘utterly failed’ to stop nuclear program
- ‘Black Santa’ display at IU sparks student outrage
EXCLUSIVE: Forest fire funds aid D.C. festivals
Even with forest fires raging out West, the U.S. Forest Service this week announced it will spend nearly $2.8 million in forest-fire-fighting money in Washington — a city with no national forests and where the last major fire was probably lit by British troops in 1814.
The D.C. aid is going to two programs: $90,000 is slated for a green summer job corps, but the vast majority of the money — $2.7 million — is going to Washington Parks & People, which sponsors park festivals and refurbishes urban parks in the Washington area.
Forest Service officials didn’t return messages left seeking comment on why they spent money from their “wildland fire mitigation” stimulus fund in Washington, but members of Congress said city parks don’t deserve the money while fires are scorching millions of acres of land and owners are losing homes.
“As catastrophic wildfires continue to burn throughout the West, destroying people’s homes and businesses in the process, funds that should be used to thin our overgrown forests and protect the public are being frivolously spent on park restoration,” said Rep. Wally Herger, a California Republican whose district has seen some of the worst fires. “While the administration is spending millions of taxpayer dollars on improving picnic grounds, communities and citizens’ lives tragically remain at risk.”
The $2.7 million in stimulus aid also appeared to come as a surprise to the folks at Washington Parks & People.
“We do not yet know anything beyond the information that we saw on the [Agriculture Department] Web site yesterday,” the group’s executive director, Stephen W. Coleman, said in an e-mail response. The Forest Service is part of the Agriculture Department.
Washington Parks & People is a 19-year-old organization that says its mission is to revitalize “once-forgotten parks and communities throughout the inner capital region.”
The stimulus bill, which passed Congress and was signed by President Obama in February, was designed to create jobs and take care of urgent priorities. The $787 billion package set aside $500 million for the Forest Service for fire mitigation, and included another $15 million for Interior Department firefighting efforts.
On Thursday, the White House Council of Economic Advisers released a report arguing that the stimulus bill has created or saved at least 1 million jobs, and will mean economic growth is up to 3 percentage points higher this quarter than would have been the case if Congress had not acted.
Republicans disputed the jobs number, saying 2.5 million people have lost their jobs since Mr. Obama signed the bill, and arguing it’s impossible to calculate what constitutes a “saved” job.
Republicans also have charged that some stimulus money is being wasted — a charge some have leveled at the Forest Service before.
Earlier this year, Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington, the top Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee, sent a letter asking why the agency was sending money to states with no Forest Service land. Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts and Rhode Island all received money, even though they don’t have any national forests.
Mr. Hastings pointed to the wildfires raging in the West and asked for an accounting of how those decisions were made, and how many jobs have been created by the spending. His office said he has not received a response.
Under the new money announced this week, Rhode Island received an additional $449,000 in wildfire suppression money, Delaware received $895,000 and Massachusetts was awarded $4.5 million. The Massachusetts money is slated to go to “Asian Longhorn beetle Area Watershed Health and Ecological Enhancement,” according to the Forest Service announcement.
While those states have state forest land, Washington, D.C., does not, and forest fires are not generally considered a risk.
In fact, according to the National Interagency Fire Center’s definition of wildland fire — which is a fire that consumes undeveloped areas with sparse habitation — Washington can’t even have a wildland fire.
NIFC doesn’t even list the city in its online reports of annual wildland fire statistics.
Nationwide, forest fires have burned more than 5 million acres of land this year.
This is not the first time Washington has received an outsized benefit from stimulus money. Despite being one of the smallest jurisdictions, the capital city has received about $2.3 billion as of late August, or more than 19 states have received, including some with populations five or six times bigger.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Stephen Dinan can be reached at email@example.com.
- Medal of Honor case goes to third defense secretary; Rep. Duncan Hunter says system broken
- John Boehner says blame for slow Congress lies with Democrats
- Hola: Boehner prepares to push amnesty bill through House
- Adios muchacho: Christie threatens veto of NJ's Dream Act
- Issa: FBI impeding inquiry into IRS targeting of conservative groups
Latest Blog Entries
- Inside China: Nuclear submarines capable of widespread attack on U.S.
- Hola: Boehner prepares to push amnesty bill through House
- Kill team: Obama war chiefs widen drone death zones
- Apple wins facial recognition patent for iPhone 6
- MILLER: Obamas EPA closing smelter will not affect ammunition supply
- NYC alarms with notice: Immediately surrender your rifle
- Pentagon may give recruits 'a shot to start over' after shameful social media posts
- Allen West warns Obamas backdoor gun control is moving forward
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Puerto Rico caravan honoring Paul Walker ends in 6 drunken-driving arrests, 72 speeding tickets
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
A stat-head’s outlook, direct from his worn in couch cushion.
Playing Through covers the world of PGA golf, as well as tips your the average golfer to play better.
The only thing broken about our immigration policy has been our collective cowardice as a nation to enforce our current immigration laws
Al Maurer provides a common sense, conservatarian, Constitutional conservative perspective from the battleground state of Colorado