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."


Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
powered by Disqus
WITN

275 E. Arlington Blvd. Greenville, NC 27858 252-439-7777
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 125606993 - witn.com/a?a=125606993