US forestry plans set to axe 1000 federal jobs

By on 02/06/2019 | Updated on 24/09/2020
Big cuts: Nine forestry centres are to close this year, with 16 more passed to new operators (Image courtesy: Free-Photos/Pixabay).

The Trump administration has announced plans to restructure its US Forest Service, potentially leading to the loss of more than 1000 federal posts. The Washington Post reported that it will be the largest layoff of civil servants in a decade.

Under the plans, responsibility for the Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centres (CCCs) will be handed over from the US Department of Agriculture to the US Department of Labor.

The centres provide vocational training to disadvantaged 16-24 year olds from rural areas, teaching skills such as wildfire fighting, disaster recovery and conservation.  The restructure, due to start in September and be complete by the end of the year, will see nine centres close with a further 16 transferred to “new contract operators or a partnership overseen by Department of Labor,” a DOL statement said, announcing the plans on Friday.

“This action creates an opportunity to serve a greater number of students at higher performing centres at a lower cost to taxpayers by modernising and reforming part of the Job Corps program,” it said.

Wielding the chainsaw

Federal employees including teachers, administrators and vocational staff will all be affected, and were told of the upcoming reduction in force (RIF) in an email sent on Friday by Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen. According to Federal News Network, Christiansen wrote: “This transfer is intended to make the entire Job Corps program more efficient and flexible to local needs when operated by State or private sector entities.”

The centres due to close from September are in Montana, Wisconsin, Arkansas, Virginia, Washington state, Kentucky, North Carolina and Oregon. 

National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE) National President Randy Erwin said in a statement: “More than 4000 students rely on these services, and centre directors are always ready to take on more students.”

Forestry fans

Opposition to the plans emerged in Congress among members of both parties. As Erwin commented: “The Job Corps program in general receives a lot of bipartisan support in Congress, and that support certainly includes the centres operated by USDA. Eighty percent of CCC students who graduate go on to get a job, enter the military, or attend continuing education.

“Plus, only the CCCs train students to serve as wildland forest firefighters to help with fire suppression operations during fire season. There is no plan for this loss of resources to the country which has seen more powerful fires with each passing year.”

About Natalie Leal

Natalie is a freelance journalist whose work has been published by The Sun Online, The Guardian, Novara Media, Positive News, and Welfare Weekly, among others. She also writes reports and case studies on global business trends for behavioural insights agency, Canvas8. Prior to working as a journalist Natalie worked for the public sector in social services for several years. She switched careers in 2013 after winning a fully funded NCTJ in a national writing competition. She holds a Masters degree in social anthropology from Sussex University where she specialised in processes of social change and international conflict and reconciliation processes.

One Comment

  1. Carlton says:

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