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Federal Gov’t Closing Forestry Training Centers, Privatizing Others

The U.S Forest Service (USFS) is closing two vocational training centers in Oregon and Washington. They’ll be allowing private companies to take over the remainder at the direction of the Trump administration. 

According to reporting, the Timber Lake Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center (CCC) in Estacada, OR and the Fort Simcoe CCC near Yakima, WA, along with seven other CCC facilities will close by the end of 2019.  

All Job Corps CCC’s in the country will stop accepting students and start laying off or out-placing staff. This move is expected to affect 1,100 USFS employees, a significant change in Oregon, home to thousands of federal forestry jobs.  

The CCC staff are also trained and prepared for fighting wildfires, and their replacement or departure could seriously impact Oregon’s wildfire readiness. They have trained over 900 students who have worked 120,000 hours on wildfires in the past three years.  

The remaining 16 CCC’s across the country will be taken over by private companies, in “partnerships” with the U.S. Department of Labor, who are taking oversight of the job training program from the Agriculture Department. 

The National Federation of Federal Employees, a national union which represents federal forest workers, said it expects 1,065 jobs to be eliminated by September of this year. 

U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley told reporters that he plans to put a hold on Agriculture Department nominees until the Secretary addresses the decision, though it’s unclear whether Merkley has similar plans to pressure the U.S. Labor Department, who are now seemingly in charge of the program. 

Neither the USFS nor the Labor Department responded to reporters’ requests for comment. 

By Ian MacRonald 

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