NC Forest Service Feeling Impact Of Budget Cuts

State budget struggles continue to impact agencies across the state, including the North Carolina Forest Service.

With a heavy fire season already on the books right now--those cuts are being felt more than ever.

From aging equipment that's harder to find money to fix or replace, the loss of a number of positions, to flat out man power fatigue--District 4 ranger Ned Berg, who serves 8 counties in the east, has seen the steady degradation. He says the acquisition and subsequent loss of a CL-215 airplane--or scooper--which drops water on the fire--was a major loss. He says a study recommended selling the plane because it wasn't being flown enough--a sentiment Berg didn't agree with--as they are now having to contract out for planes.

And with multiple massive wildfires this year--the most important resource--manpower--is being stretched even more. Berg says, "We've worked some long hours these past three or four months, lots of them had been working 50 and 60 days straight--we've got some very dedicated employees."

The North Carolina Forest Service had an operating budget of 11.9 million for this fiscal year--but after the state budget was approved--it was slashed roughly 20 percent, dropping to 9.4 million dollars. Since 2007 the organization has lost 32 percent of its appropriated operating funds--including 42 full time positions.

Berg--who ends his nearly three decade career at the end of this month--remains confident that, despite shortfalls--the forest service will rise to the occasion. "We take pride in our work --and we're going to turn out the quality of work--if it takes the extra time to do it--if that's what it takes that's what we're going to give--we're here to help protect and serve the citizens of North Carolina and we're going to do it the best we know how with what we've got."

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  • by Dave Location: Winterville on Jul 15, 2011 at 04:40 AM
    Hey, don't cry foul, folks. This is what you voted for. You wanted budget cuts to live within our means, so this means your house must burn down. No pain, no gain -- right?
  • by Anonymous on Jul 14, 2011 at 07:13 PM
    Thank you, state of NC, for showing how much you care. The thing is, all they have to do when the fires get bad enough is declare a federal emergency and get funding through them. Never mind the damage done until that happens.
  • by Anonymous on Jul 14, 2011 at 05:44 PM
    If the smoke was affecting the legislators Raleigh they would find the money to finish the fires and smoke faster.

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