An amendment aimed at keeping Forest Service vocation centers open passed the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday as part of a federal funding bill, and might save a facility in Estacada, Ore.
The amendment was introduced by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and prohibits the feds from pulling funding from Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers for the rest of the fiscal year.
Last month, the Trump Administration announced that it would be closing Forest Service vocation centers for disadvantaged youth around the nation. The Estacada Job Corps center on the chopping block serves 180 students—teaching them things such as wildfire fighting—and employs 45 staff members.
Additional centers that are not shuttered would be taken over in private partnerships by the U.S. Department of Labor, but all would stop accepting students, in turn reducing the amount of support fire fighters receive. (The CCC crew in Estacada was one of the first groups to help respond to the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire.)
"This isn't just about fighting for jobs," Blumenauer says, "it's about fighting for the environment and our lives. Peter and I will do everything we can so [the Job Corps centers] remain open."
The bill now goes to the U.S. Senate for a vote. If approved, it would need President Donald Trump's signature.