The head of the White River National Forest says the agency is doing more with less as it continues to battle budget cuts from Washington D.C.
Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams told elected officials, conservation groups and business leaders Friday that the White River is grappling with tight funding. During a “state of the forest” address he said the budget is almost half of what it was five years ago, and staffing levels are down.
He says nearly all of the agency’s budget is being used to fund fixed costs, like salaries and rents, leaving little for side projects.
"Unfortunately it means reduction of services, like the struggles of not having an Aspen office or presence. It’s because we just can’t afford it. And then, there’s discretionary projects. Either we find help or we don’t do them. Discretionary projects are what I think we all think we should be doing. It’s wildlife habitat improvement, it’s the trails, it’s those type of things."
One solution is collaboration. An example is Garfield County and Glenwood Springs pitching in to help control crowds this summer at Hanging Lake.