Federal budget cuts not evenly distributed

The sequester has taken a bite out of the budgets of many agencies that play significant roles in western Colorado, but only one as deep as the 5.1 percent cut for domestic programs, according to figures released by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Nearly all the agencies in the department saw the sequester reduce their budgets by less than 5.1 percent. Only one, the Interior Department’s office of the Inspector General, incurred a cut greater than 5.1 percent, seeing a budget reduction of 5.56 percent.

The Bureau of Land Management, the largest landowner in western Colorado, saw its budget trimmed by 4.9 percent, according to Interior Department figures.

That’s a bigger bite than the one to be absorbed by the National Park Service, which is to see its budget cut 4.29 percent.

The Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages the Upper Colorado River Endangered Fish Recovery Program and is studying the possible listing of the Gunnison sage grouse as endangered, is to get a 4.67 percent cut.

The Office of the Secretary is slated to see a 4.95 percent budget reduction.

Interior officials said the reason the sequester strikes differently among the various agencies within the department is that agencies have a mix of accounts, some of which are affected by the sequester, some are not.

The variance, however, suggests that department heads have more flexibility to manage the effects of sequester reductions, a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., said.

The sequester “will take us back to approximately 2008 levels of spending,” said Emily Hytha, communications director for the Congressional Western Caucus. “The national parks were open with plenty of opportunities for visitors in 2008, so we expect that the federal government will take these cuts and streamline processes to make for more efficiently run agencies.”

The Western Congressional Caucus, like the Senate Western Caucus, has only Republicans in its membership.

The Agriculture Department didn’t respond directly to a request for the percentage reduction in the Forest Service budget, but said the reduced spending level would increase risk to communities because as many as 200,000 fewer acres would be treated for hazardous fuels.

Here is a list of Interior Department agencies and the percentage of reductions they’ll see from the sequester:

■ Bureau of Indian Affairs - 4.31 percent

■ Bureau of Land Management - 4.9 percent

■ Bureau of Ocean Energy Management — 4.97 percent

■ Bureau of Reclamation — 3.57 percent

■ Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement — 4.34 percent

■ Fish and Wildlife Service — 4.67 percent

■ National Park Service — 4.29 percent

■ Office of Inspector General — 5.56 percent

■ Office of National Resources Revenue — 4.95 percent

■ Office of Surface Mining — 3.59 percent

■ Office of the Secretary — 4.95 percent

■ Office of the Solicitor — 3.66 percent

■ Office of the Special Trustee — 1.41 percent

■ U.S. Geological Survey — 3.36 percent.


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