A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators, including Oregon’s Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, successfully pressured the Trump administration to back down from plans to close or privatize over two dozen U.S. Forest Service job training centers.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, whose department oversees the Forest Service, announced on Wednesday, June 19 that all of the centers would remain open and under Forest Service control.
The proposed change would have closed nine of these centers across the country, known as Civilian Conservation Corps centers (CCCs), including one in Estacada, OR. The remaining 16 were to be transferred to private contractors, including two other CCCs near Yachats and Glide, OR. The change would have laid off almost 1,100 Forest Service employees nationwide, 126 in Oregon alone.
The Job Corps CCCs are designed to provide education and opportunities for at-risk, low-income youth, including training to fight wildfires. Since 2016, Oregon’s CCCs have trained over 900 students with a combined 120,000 hours of “fire support” training or involvement.
By Ian MacRonald