Forest restoration efforts continue to put Americans to work in communities around the country
USDA Forest Service Officials announced today that the agency will build on job creation efforts through American Recovery and Reinvestment Act investments during the upcoming fiscal year by continuing to emphasize job creation and new partnerships with the private sector to create sustainable, green jobs.
"The Forest Service has been making investments in communities around the country and creating great new jobs in rural America," said Tom Tidwell, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service. "By focusing on new jobs and private sector partnerships, the Forest Service will continue to build a forest restoration economy to achieve Secretary Vilsack's and the Forest Service's forest and rangeland restoration goals."
Recovery Act funds expire at the end of fiscal year 2010, but Tidwell explained that the Forest Service will retain its "Recovery Act focus" as part of its regular program of work in FY2011. This will be accomplished using unobligated balances from FY 2010, along with FY 2011 appropriations, allowing the Forest Service to continue to restore forest resources while meeting the needs of rural economies.
To meet these goals, the Forest Service will take the following steps:
- Unobligated fiscal year 2010 funding will carry over to fiscal year 2011. Regional Foresters and Station Directors will prioritize their programs of work and look for opportunities that will result in job creation and retention while still ensuring program objectives, goals and outcomes are met.
- Focus will remain on implementing the highest priority projects and acres. Recognizing that jobs are a priority of the nation right now, the Forest Service will accept reduced number of acres treated or resource accomplishments if Regional Foresters and Station Directors can show that shifting or reprioritizing work will result in a greater number of jobs created while maintaining significant benefit to forest health and restoration.
The Forest Service will use its Job Corps, Youth Conservation Corps and Public Lands Corps programs as training opportunities, and develop partnerships to facilitate the placement of graduates from these programs, according to Tidwell, including new, non-traditional partners within the agency's programs to better reach underserved communities in urban areas with high unemployment rates.
Tidwell said that the agency sees the greatest potential for job creation and retention in Integrated Resources Restoration, Construction and Maintenance, Hazardous Fuels, and Recreation accounts. For example, within Hazardous Fuels, emphasizing mechanical treatments in place of prescribed burning could result in increased job creation. Emphasizing Stewardship Contracting as a tool to implement restoration will also create private sector infrastructure investment and jobs through long-term 10-year contracts. The agency will measure success using agency ARRA methodologies to estimate job creation and retention, and report these findings at the end of fiscal year 2011.