White Mountain Apache Tribal Community Finds Relief in Work, Flood Control Measures
Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture highlighted the jobs created by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The evidence is clear – and growing by the day – that the Recovery Act is putting people back to work.
"President Obama’s Recovery Act has helped to create jobs and lay a new foundation for economic growth during the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression,” said Natural Resources and the Environment Under Secretary Harris Sherman. “USDA has used Recovery Act funding to create badly-needed jobs and stimulate local economies; help farmers and rural businesses make it through tough times; ensure that struggling families can put food on the table; and build and revitalize critical infrastructure in rural communities across America.”
In Arizona, a USDA Forest Service Recovery Act-funded project treating hazardous fuels on thousands of acres within the Fort Apache Indian Reservation is helping address the approximately 70 percent tribal unemployment rate. This project will reduce fuels and wildfire threat around three tribal communities: Carrizo, Cibecue, and Cedar Creek. The Fort Apache Indian Reservation and the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest share many common boundaries.
Sixty-eight new jobs have been created to carry out the work that also includes flood/erosion mitigation measures emanating from the 2002 467,000-acre Rodeo-Chediski Fire, the worst forest fire in Arizona's recorded history to date. The tribe anticipates hiring an additional 20 workers.
All positions have been filled by Native Americas living within the boundaries of the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. Work on this project includes field crews employed by the tribe; local Native American contractors; and local youth being encouraged by the White Mountain Apache Tribe to continue their education. The students commit to two-week contracts that include 20 hours of volunteer community service.
Crew positions include crew leaders, sawyers, and hand crews.
Since the Recovery Act was signed into law a year ago, USDA has moved quickly to get nearly $28 billion dollars out the door. The USDA Forest Service has distributed over $1 billion dollars to create private sector jobs and produce significant resource benefits. Forest Service Recovery Act projects are focused on: reducing wildfire risks; maintaining forest roads and trails; producing clean and abundant water; restoring forest health; improving energy efficiency of public and administrative facilities; converting wood to clean energy; and offering job training opportunities to youth.
“This spring and summer, over 600 Forest Service Economic Recovery projects will be going on across the nation, accomplishing critical resource work and providing jobs and training to people who need them,” said Under Secretary Sherman.