January 27, 2017

Wyden, Merkley, DeFazio, Blumenauer, Bonamici Say Hiring Freeze Raises Firefighting Concerns

Washington, D.C. – Sen. Ron Wyden, Sen. Jeff Merkley, Rep. Peter DeFazio, Earl Blumenauer and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici today told the White House that its action freezing federal employee hiring for 90 days raises significant questions about having enough seasonal workers to fight forest fires in Oregon and nationwide.

“Without staff in place to prepare for the wildfire season, which is starting earlier and earlier every year due to climate change and years of severe drought conditions across the country, our forests and communities are put in harm's way,” Wyden, Merkley, DeFazio, Blumenauer and Bonamici wrote in their letter to the president. “Seasonal hiring will be starting soon and uncertainty about how to proceed could have serious impacts on public safety.”

The lawmakers said their letter follows calls from Oregon communities worried about how the hiring freeze applies to permanent, temporary, and seasonal workers hired by the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, or other land management agency to fight wildfires or fulfill other duties necessary to prevent wildfires.

The lawmakers also noted that federal hiring freezes have historically proven to cost the federal government more money while failing to address the problems they are meant to fix.  

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