Opinion: transferring Job Corps Centers will mean privatization

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Anaconda Job Corps
Members of a Job Corps Center fire crew at Anaconda in Montana. This facility is slated by the Trump Administration for closure. Job Corps photo.

The Trump Administration’s plans to transfer the management of 25 Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers from the Forest Service to the Department of Labor (DOL) and permanently close 9 of those 25 centers continues to provoke strong reactions.

On June 11 we published an editorial written by a former high-level Forest Service employee, Michael T. Rains. Before he retired in 2016 Mr. Rains had been Deputy Chief of the Forest Service for State and Private Forestry in Washington, D.C. and Director of the Northern Research Station at Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. Below, Mr. Rains expands on his earlier message, this time concentrating on what it will mean to transfer the Centers to the Department of Labor.

“I am writing again about the May 24, 2019 decision to “close” and “transfer” 25 Forest Service JCCCC’s.

“Recently, I was reading an article entitled, “Privatization of Trapper Creek Job Corps would ripple across forests, towns, schools.” The article focuses on the negative impacts of “transferring” the Trapper Creek Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center [JCCCC] to a private contractor through the Department of Labor.

“Because words do matter, I began to think about the words “closure”, “transfer”, “contractors” and “privatization.”  “Closure” is clear.  Everything ends.  The Trapper Creek JCCCC is set for “transfer.”  I suppose, clinically speaking, “transferring” something from point A to point B sounds pretty innocuous; no harm no foul, right?  But then when I think about the words “contractors” or “private contractors” that lead to the “privatization” of an enterprise steeped in a specific culture; the word “transfer” takes on a much more profound meaning.  Accordingly, it remains clear to me that a transfer to privatize will essentially end a success story of helping train students to care for the land.  And, in these times when caring for America’s lands is so critical to protecting people and communities from disturbances – for example, wildfires – transferring to privatize the Forest Service JCCCC’s is a really ugly choice.

“It is clear that many are outraged about the “closures.” They should be.  Let us also be outraged about the “transfer” of Forest Service JCCCC’s that will be “privatized” causing the legacy built by the Forest Service Job Corps teachers and students to be methodically lost.  And, what a loss that will be.  As a former Forest Service Job Corps employee during the mid-1960s so succinctly put it:  “The fact this program is either being shut down or auctioned off to a mercenary group is a bloody disgrace.” Yes, words do matter.  Moving from Point A to Point B may not seem like a big deal.  But, with the Forest Service JCCCC’s, the word transfer will mean privatization and this essentially means closure.  Do not let this happen.”

Job Corps repairs bridge
Students from the Blackwell Job Corps Center helped the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest Recreation Crew replace decking on the off-highway vehicle trail bridge over Riley Creek in Florence County, Wisconsin. The Blackwell Center is slated for closing by the Trump Administration. Job Corps photo.

More about transferring and closing the Job Corps Centers:

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

7 thoughts on “Opinion: transferring Job Corps Centers will mean privatization”

  1. “Transferring” the job corps centers to the Department of Labor really seems to mean privatizing the centers. The USFS has already transferred many of our national campground operations to private contractors. That has created a boggle of online reservation sites. If a person makes a reservation for a site the site requires a long lead time for cancellation. That results in the operator guarantee payment but does not allow the use of the site by a new potential camper. So many campgrounds have vacant sites during the busiest times of the year. I don’t know of many people who travel and camp that do not need to make last minute changes. Camper travel is much more flexible and fluid than hotel travel. This system stinks.
    And the USFS has a mission very different from the department of Labor.

    1. I remember USFS campgrounds in Colorado in the 1960s, when I was a kid.

      Clean campgrounds, access to clean water, clean outhouses … and, unbelievably, a large stack of split firewood for your campfire, free of charge. In fact, there was not a single fee for camping!

  2. Mr. President: If you are considering closing the CCC..THATS JUST PLAIN STUPIDITY!
    What in God’s name are you thinking? Good greif… “God have mercy on us”

    1. Pati – few folks use the words “President” and “thinking” in the same sentence since January 20, 2017. But “stupidity” has become commonly used.


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