Thanks to Chadd Cripe for the July 23 story on the Idaho Trails Association and the great work of volunteers to help maintain trails in Idaho forests. But while Chadd touched on it lightly, the implication is if we want more trails maintained then Congress needs to fix how they fund the Forest Service’s wildfire operations. For years now we have seen the money for fire operations eat away at the forest management programs. It used to be 15 percent of the budget and now it takes up half of the agency funding. I know Sen. Mike Crapo and Rep. Mike Simpson have introduced legislation to fix it, with some fanfare, but they seem to have disappeared and quit talking about it. Now I hear that other members of Congress who agree with the legislation are trying to add to it their pet projects and try to slip them into law. This tactic more often than not drags a bill down to defeat. I know the U.S. Congress sometimes cannot walk and chew gum at the same time, but let’s hope they can fix fire funding in a way that restores the funds for trails and other work on our national forests.
Chris Jones, Boise