Oregon: Questions about stimulus for “fuels reduction”

Enclosed below are a couple examples of stimulus bill spending on forest thinning. While reading consider this: Depression-era conservation corp forest thinning created many jobs in the name of  FDR’s New Deal.

So in the name of what… is Obama’s forest thinning funds addressing current joblessness?

And is Obama’s stimulus really creating jobs, or… is the stimulus keeping a float an industry in need of major restructuring?  Most important what happened to the forests that were thinned back during the great depression? Did the thinning help those forests? From a utilitarian view the answer is yes. From an ecologic view those younger thinned forests were impacted by natural shaping forces of fire, storm, floods, disease and changing geology. But even more likely the depression-era thinned forests were swept up in a less than natural force of civilization building.

And what will become of these Obama forests after they’ve been thinned for better or for worse? –Editor, Forest Policy Research

As the first phase of USDA Forest Service economic stimulus funds
arrive in Central Oregon, two Deschutes National Forest contracts are
awarded today under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009
in Jefferson and Deschutes Counties. Tree thinning and biomass removal
work will begin within the week. A contract was awarded to Melcher
Logging, Incorporated in the amount of $1,472,000 for work in
Jefferson County on the Sisters Ranger District. This work on
approximately 3,200 acres will occur on the Head Thinning project, an
existing stewardship project in the woods.

Another contract for $402,582 was awarded to Quicksilver Contracting Company for lower elevation thinning work to be done at several  locations on the Bend Fort Rock Ranger District in Deschutes County. Quicksilver will employ approximately twenty persons to do the work across approximately 3,630 acres. The Deschutes and Ochoco National Forests are on schedule to award the remaining funds of approximately three million dollars to contractors in Jefferson, Deschutes and Crook Counties by the end of the week. “Jefferson and Deschutes Counties have seen some of the highest increases in unemployment in our state over the past few months,” says Deputy Forest Supervisor Mary Farnsworth. “It is very exciting to be part of putting people back to work reducing the hazardous fuels near our communities right here in Central Oregon.”

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More than 150 people will begin working to reduce wildfire danger in
southwestern Oregon this spring, thanks to roughly $3 million in U.S.
Forest Service contracts funded by the federal stimulus package. The
largest is $1.4 million for the Hope Mountain Stewardship Project in
southeastern Illinois Valley. The joint effort is a partnership
involving Uncle Sam and the Lomakatsi Restoration Project based in
Ashland and Siskiyou Regional Education Project in the Illinois

The stewardship effort, which will employ about 35 people for
a year and create an additional 15 indirect jobs in the community,
involves cutting brush and small trees on about 890 acres in the Wild
Rivers Ranger District of the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest.
Grayback Forestry Inc., which has offices in White City and Merlin,
has been awarded a $600,000 contract to remove hazardous fuels in the
Waters Creek area of the Wild Rivers district and an additional
$325,000 for similar work in the Agness area in the Gold Beach Ranger
District. Those contracts will provide work for about 100 people for
some three months beginning as early as Wednesday, said company
president Mike Wheelock. Sutherlin-based Diamond Fire received two
contracts totaling about $580,000 for hazardous fuels work in the Gold
Beach Ranger District and the Powers Ranger District.

Those contracts are expected to create up to 30 jobs, according to a forest official. Noting that his firm has had a 40 percent reduction in work in the past two years and was facing a reduced season and possible layoffs, Wheelock said the stimulus funds will provide work for existing employees as well as about 40 new workers. He estimated there will be enough work for at least 100 people for up to three months and a year’s worth for many others. Most of the firm’s employees live in Jackson or Josephine counties, he said. “This is definitely a shot in the arm,” he said. “After being faced with cutbacks, this is real uplifting for everybody in the company.” In preparation, Grayback has purchased six new trucks to replace worn-out vehicles in its fleet, three from a dealership in Josephine County and three from a dealership in Jackson County, he said. Other equipment purchased from local stores includes 30 chain saws, fire clothes, boots and other supplies, he said. The work will mean more income for other local businesses as well, he added. “This important work will provide family-wage jobs to our workers …,” he said. “In anticipation of the new work load, we started our returnees a month earlier than previously expected. Recently we hired an additional 20 new workers and expect around 20 to 30 more new hires over the next few months.”

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