Federal McForestry

Larry Harrell fotoware at jps.net
Sun Mar 8 09:55:42 EST 1998

Having worked for the US Forest Service as a temporary employee for 16
seasons, I've had a good view of the inner workings of the timber
management arena in the west. One of the biggest threats to our forests is
the bureaucracy of the federal government insuring a fresh supply "temps"
eager to make the same mistakes as their predecessors. I include myself in
on this group of timbermarkers and harvest inspectors. Low wages and poor
treatment guarantee a "revolving door" on the important skill positions.
Any incentive to excel has been removed by budgets, political correctness
and abuse. The Forest Service believes that anyone wielding a paintgun
right out of high school is practicing forestry. Often, I have been
responsible for training all new timber markers and harvest inspectors. 

Federal rules limit the appointments that temps can hold. Most temps are
limited to working a maximum of six months with very little benefits. Some
temps can work up to four years with benefits, after which they are
terminated. Generally, temps do all the important field work and resource
protection. For example, I've written and signed over 90% of all the sale
agreements on my sales. For representing the federal government in timber
sale contracts, my temporary appointment pays me about $10.00 per hour.

Many Forest Service temps now believe that a permanent job is not in the
cards and are looking elsewhere for a career. Personally, I had been
willing to dedicate my life to the Forest Service in exchange for a career
in my chosen field. Why can't I be hired on the basis of my knowledge and
skills alone? Unfortunately, I have already abandoned my quest for a
permanent job. Packing up and moving from forest to forest every few years
is not something I enjoy anymore.

Now, more than ever, our forests need the best workers money can buy.   

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