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Opinion: Workforce should be at work
07072018 FOREST SERVICE
U.S. Forest Service - photo by Ben Hendren

I worked over 40 years with the U.S. Forest Service as a certified wildlife biologist and as a certified fishery scientist. I then spent over 15 years doing significant work for them as a volunteer, so I have a pretty good idea of the type of work they need to do to achieve their accomplishment goals. 

Over the past year, I’ve tried calling various offices on the Chattahoochee, Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests several times, with no response other than an automatic recording that the the office is currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, or something similar. During this time, when I questioned a few supposedly knowledgeable individuals about what was going on, they told me that the employees were working out of their house at full pay! I have little doubt that this is the same situation across all government agencies. 

At the same time millions of people in private industry were going bankrupt and losing their business, millions of government employees were “working at home” and drawing full pay? There is literally no way that foresters, biologists, engineers, soil scientists and other individuals employed by the Forest Service can do everything necessary to accomplish their goals by ”working at home.” 

I certainly don’t fault the field units I tried to contact. They are simply following edicts from their higher offices in Washington, and I have no doubt would prefer to be working normally. 

The mortality rate for children and people still young enough to be working is so low, that lockdown restrictions on work should have been lifted months ago. Most retired older people have a choice. They can go into hiding and be miserable for their remaining days or simply ignore the chance of contracting COVID-19 (or any other of the many afflictions of the old) and enjoy life with a very slight chance of meeting their maker a few days sooner! I’m 88 and take the second choice with no reservations! 

Monte E. Seehorn

Gainesville

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