Budget cuts would force out foresters, protections

Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 3:05pm

Budget cuts could force the state to lay off foresters and curtail protections for woodlands from wildfires, invasive insects and other dangers, officials warned Tuesday.

"It takes people to do the job — you can't do it with your cell phone," Tennessee Forestry Commission chairman Bill Williams told the Senate Environment Committee.

Under Gov. Phil Bredesen’s recommended state budget, Tennessee will lay off 200 workers, including 28 foresters, unless the legislature agrees to raise $50 million in new taxes on cable television and on dividends from real estate investment trusts. Also facing layoffs are prosecutors, public defenders and probation and parole officers. Republican legislative leaders already have come out against the cable TV tax.

Williams said the state Forestry Division is straining to fight wildfires and an onslaught of exotic insects such as the pine beetle and gypsy moth. Commission vice chairman John Ross said that of the 28 foresters who would lose their jobs, 23 work with private landowners to protect forests. About 20,300 square miles of forest land is privately owned in Tennessee, he said.

“These people are the eyes of the state and the public to see that environmental protection is carried out and that the land is taken care of. I do want to emphasize that it is critically important that these positions be kept,” Ross said.

2 Comments on this post:

By: cannoneer2 on 2/9/10 at 9:20

Foresters are very necessary for healthy woodlands. Why in blue blazes are foresters jobs tied to taxes on cable television? Why are we cutting positions like this instead of "Deputy to the First Lady", who earns much more than the highest paid forester, but provides a service of dubious value to the citizens of this state?

By: Anna3 on 2/10/10 at 9:19

Wanna talk about health???? Bredesen's budget is cutting out 14 probation officers from the Juvenile Courts in Davidson County! That would create 250 more un-supervised kids running our streets EVERY DAY than we have now. These kids have been cought burglarizing, vandalizing, stealing, assaulting, and dealing drugs in Nashville....ON TOP of all of this...mayor Dean has instructed the Juvenile Justice folks in Davidson County to cut 7% more to fund the Convention Center...(Wow! I just realized that Dean put the CON in Convention Center!) which will cut 5 to 7 more probation officers bringing the total cut to 1/3 of the entire staff! Where is the City Paper on this! Where is the "In depth" coverage??? It seems that Eric Crafton is the only one trying to do something about this...he apparently contacted Sen. Jack Johnson's, Rep. Glen Casada, Rep. Debra Maggart, and Lt. Gov. Ramsey on this issue, and they are checking into possible solutions. At least somebody cares. All the Democrats in Nashville...and not one could stop Bredesen or Dean! Go figure...more talk and no action.