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Newhouse, McMorris Rodgers Strongly Oppose USDA Decision to Close U.S. Forest Service Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers

May 28, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Reps. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)  released a joint statement following the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) request to transfer operations of all USDA Forest Service Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers (Job Corps CCC) to the Department of Labor (DOL).

“This misguided decision is a betrayal of the Administration’s commitment to bring prosperity to rural America and the rural communities of Washington state. Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers provide young people with technical training and the opportunity to learn skills applicable throughout their lives, all while providing assistance in the regions that need it most. This decision will not make the government more efficient – it will only do damage to our rural communities and the national forests these students serve. We pledge to pursue every possible legislative effort to keep these Centers open and operating.”

Background:

Job Corps CCCs help conserve, develop, and manage public natural resources and public recreation areas and respond to natural disasters, including wildfires and hurricanes. The 25 CCCs operate in 17 national forests and grasslands across 16 states and train over 4,000 young adults annually. These centers provide critical capacity for the U.S. Forest Service to fulfill its mission while at the same time providing job training and economic opportunity in rural areas.  

There are three USDA Forest Service Job Corps CCCs in Washington State. Fort Simcoe, located at 40 Abella Lane, White Swan, WA, and Columbia Basin, located at 6739 24th Avenue NE, Moses Lake, WA, are in Washington’s 4th Congressional District. Curlew, located at 3 Campus Street, Curlew, WA, is in Washington’s 5th Congressional District. These centers provide at-risk youth with skills training and employment, as well as providing critical support to rural communities, such as wildfire recovery and forest management.

USDA’s decision to transfer operations of Forest Service Job Corps CCCs to DOL will target 9 of the 25 centers for closure and deactivation, including Fort Simcoe. The remaining 16 centers will be replaced by new contract operators or a partnership overseen by DOL with new policies. In addition to not knowing how these policies will impact their effectiveness, this change does not preclude DOL from closing these remaining centers in the future.