After months of debate, and not one, but two government shutdowns, a spending bill for the federal government was finally passed on March 22nd. Much to the pleasant surprise of public lands advocates, Donald Trump’s proposed cuts were nowhere to be seen and instead the budget is actually up by over $3 billion. In America’s system of checks and balances, it is ultimately congress that has the power over the budget, and it looks like public lands advocacy is paying off. Let’s take a look at where that money went.
On Friday January 18, Congress failed to come to an agreement on a budget and a Government Shutdown occurred. Unfortunately, this is not the first time this has happened and it will not be the last. However, what was different about this shutdown was that the national parks remained open. Today, we are going to examine the pros and cons of that decision and about how this shutdown (and future shutdowns) has the ability to affect our public lands.
As 2017 comes to an end, I thought now would be as good a time as any to wrap up the top headlines effecting forestry and our public lands this year. It was a big year with many changes- making it hard to narrow it down to a few but these are the ones that seem to have made the most impact this year.
About two years ago the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) conducted an audit of the National Park Service’s hiring practices. Recently, they announced their findings. What they found was that the NPS was abusing their hiring authority. This was not so shocking for those us who work the NPS. With the shrinking budget, corners have had to be cut to be able to continue to operate at the same level we have been for years. However, the changes put in place to correct these issues are going to make a huge impact, especially for seasonal employees, Here is what you need to know.
Over the years, I have written a lot on this blog about national park visitation, the threats facing our parks today, and the diminishing budget for our parks. What I am going to talk about today deals with all of these things, but from what I have seen so far, it seems to be a sensitive topic. The opinion I hold on this topic is not necessarily a popular one, but after working in parks and researching them for many many years it is an opinion I think is informed, and one that I am sticking to.
This month we are jumping right back into our spotlight series! As previously covered in an earlier blog, searching the USAjobs website can get confusing. There are hundreds of jobs out there and their job titles might not sound anything like what the position actually entails. Even though you now know how to search for jobs according to their series and grade, you might be thrown off by the jobs that your search comes up with. I am going to be spotlighting specific starter positions within our public lands that you might not necessarily think to apply to. However, these are jobs that you should be applying to, as they offer an excellent foot into the door in the forestry field. This month’s spotlight is on probably the most common forestry position out there –The Wildland Firefighter. What is unique about this position is that you can do it full time, but depending on demand, many people doing other jobs in the forestry field can get voluntarily “drafted” to go on rolls during fire season. So pay attention, because even if you think this doesn’t apply to you, in the future there is a god possibility you will at least be spending some time on a fire. Special thanks to David Hon from Wyoming State Helitack for helping us out with this month’s spotlight!
Four days ago, I moved to Yellowstone, and with that move came my first real access to internet (not just on my phone and not limited to 10 minutes) that I have had in about a year. After filing through personal stuff I needed to catch up on, I realized I had literally hundreds of unread messages on my Facebook and Instagram from people who read this blog. I had not realized just how many people actually read this, and was surprised by the sheer volume. I am going to try to get back to everyone, but just know it will likely take me awhile. However, what I will do is use this blog to address the frequently asked questions that kept popping up in these messages to me.
On this blog I frequently discuss the issues facing our public lands today. Many of these issues stem from overcrowding and our parks being “loved to death.” As many parks experience more and more visitation, with increasing impacts on the natural resources they are supposed to protect, the question is often raised, “What can we do?” Zion National Park is finally taking charge to do something about this and recently announced the preliminary concepts of their Visitor Use Management Plan (VUMP). This plan is a game changer in many ways, and sets a precedent that we can expect to see other parks following in the upcoming years.