Wednesday, November 2, 2005
The Mt. Hood National Forest plans to abolish approximately 10 positions in its Engineering Road Management organization.
One of those positions will be cut from the Hood River or Barlow districts.
All but one of the positions is currently occupied.
The positions include civil engineers, technicians, and equipment operators at both the field and Forest Headquarters level.
"Our employees have been working very hard to reduce costs, produce high quality results ... ,” said Forest Supervisor Gary Larsen. “But unfortunately, we have to match our workforce to the available funding. This downsizing is directly related to our budget, and the need to overcome an ongoing deficit in the roads management program. It does not change the needs of forest visitors for a well-maintained road system."
Forest officials are projecting by October 2005 for Mt. Hood National Forest to begin a transition to maintain all roads and related infrastructure through private contractors and cooperative agreements.
"Contracting road maintenance will give us greater flexibility to adjust to changes in future budgets, said forest engineer Odell Sanders. “By reducing fixed costs as much as possible, we are making it possible to spend those dollars where it makes a difference, which is, maintaining safe roads for the public and our employees."
This change will cause many forest roads to be maintained at a lower standard, and in some cases closed. Forest visitors are likely to see more brush along roads, potholes, and bumpy road surfaces.
Seven road related positions will remain across the 1.1 million acre Mt. Hood National Forest to prioritize, plan, design and administer contracts for road maintenance, including brushing, blading, and other repairs. The Mt. Hood National Forest has approximately 3,400 miles of road, 58 bridges, and several hundred large culverts to maintain.