Forestry agency cutbacks spare local office jobs

Published 5:00 am Monday, August 8, 2005

Mississippi Forestry Commission offices in Lincoln Countyescaped recently-announced personnel cuts, but there were somereductions across the newly-expanded district.

“Fortunately, we didn’t lose any people here at the districtoffice, the county forestry office or support staff,” said DaleBrown, the district’s public outreach officer. “We turned out luckythere.”

The commission last week announced plans to lay off 48 employeesand reduce 75 offices to 12. The moves are expected to save $1.4million during tight budget times.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Area MFC activities were affected by a realignment of districtsfrom six to four, Brown said. Previously, his district included 14counties primarily in the southwestern part of the state.

“Our 14-county area expanded by four counties along the easternedge of the district,” said Brown, pointing out that Rankin,Simpson, Jefferson Davis and Marion counties were added.

While there were no personnel reductions here, Brown said sevenoffice support positions in the 18-county district were lost.Citing personnel concerns, he was unable to be more specific aboutwhere the reductions occurred.

Officials stressed the personnel changes will not impactfirefighting efforts.

“Statewide, the reduction in force didn’t affect any techniciansor rangers, which are the firefighters,” Brown said.

In the district, Brown said, there are 33 tractor-plow unitsused for firefighting and 57 rangers and technicians.

“When we approach fire season, we’ve got enough people to mainthe 33 units,” Brown said.

Among other personnel action, Brown mentioned several districtemployees who left prior to the announced layoffs. They eitherretired or left to accept other jobs.

Regarding office closures, Brown no immediate changes there.

“Right now, we’re going to be able to maintain our currentoffices,” Brown said.

Brown said the only office closure in the district was inJefferson County. That happened last month and its activities werecombined with Adams County.

Another office closure is expected around end of September inClaiborne County, Brown said. Its activities will be combined withthose in Warren County.