Forest Focus - November 24, 1998

Don Baccus dhogaza at
Tue Dec 1 00:04:06 EST 1998

In article <01be1cdc$47108380$9e3319d0 at laptop>,
Larry Harrell <fotoware at> wrote:

>Much of this thread was about high costs of forest service timber sale
>programs. I was semi-sarcastically proposing that they reduce their
>expensive workforce the same way that their corporate-like ideas have
>recently proposed as well by contracting out many timber services.

Well, I must admit I missed the sarcasm.  I don't like the way they're
privatizing so many services, because the contractors have no 
loyalty to the public forests (or, I should say, they need not have,
some obviously will).  The same is happening with campgrounds and
the like.  In Oregon, I saw claims three years ago that privatization
would yield to lower costs...yet campground fees have gone up by about
20%.  If costs are truly lower, then the increased fees couple with these
lower costs simply mean that the recreational user is being forced to
provide profits to private operators while, of course, still being
hit in the pocketbook by taxes to support the USFS.  

>look good on paper but cannot be implemented well) Professionalism and
>esprit de corps do not describe the USFS of today.

As far as I can tell, outside of the timber sales side of the house, 
professionalism and esprit de corps hasn't described the USFS for
30 years...

>> I mean...Weyerhauser employes its wildlife biologists on a full-time
>> basis.  Why can't the USFS do so as well? (some are, of course, but
>> the bulk who work in the field aren't - even if they work year-round,
>> they're hired as temps on revolving 6-month contracts without benefits).

>Because they claim that they have no certainty that their timber program is
>"permanent" and they do not want to be forced to hire "politically correct"
>field-going people as permanents.

Oh, I know about their CLAIMS, what I'm saying is that we need a commitment
to keeping the best folks in the Service.  The current system makes no sense.

>> If you turn the timber staffs into seasonal unbenefitted employees,
>> the best will simply go to private industry, just as has happened with
>> bios.  While this might improve management standards at Weyerhauser et
>> all, how does this benefit the USFS?

>It'll be cheaper!! I know of many temps who could do as well or better of a
>job than the current permanents.

And if they stay on as temps in such a climate, they are idiots.  I mean,
there are MUCH better opportunities elsewhere.  One has to have one's
green shorts superglued to one's pubic hairs to stay in the Service under
your model.  The best temps would leave, too.  

After all, you've left ... and you're simply suggesting that the 
employment conditions that caused you to leave be applied much more order to "save money"? 

>The USFS cares more about "other things" than about doing quality work.

Yes, but paying them less to do a bad job won't help anything.  Forcing
them to do a good job, and then being willing to pay the price, makes a
lot more sense to me than turning the entire Service into a temp-dominated
workforce many of whom would be eligible for the Oregon Health Plan.


- Don Baccus, Portland OR <dhogaza at>
  Nature photos, on-line guides, at

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