Public Lands, Private Bands

Is Yellowstone National Park poised to become the next
Disneyland? Will automatic weapon-wielding security guards patrol
public lands as private law enforcement groups? President Bush
proposed outsourcing (privatizing) hundreds of thousands of federal
jobs just after the November 2002 elections. Bobby Harnage Sr.,
president of the American Federation of Government Employees
(AFGE), called this move a ‘weapon of mass destruction aimed at
federal employees.’ The announcement has received other unsavory
commentary: After a government memo was released stating that the
National Park Service might cut jobs and services to meet Bush’s
outsourcing quotas, two former Interior Department secretaries,
Bruce Babbitt and Stewart Udall, said privatization could turn
crown jewels like Yosemite into spectacles like Niagara Falls or

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER),
recently reported that the US Forest Service was ‘initiating
studies for contracting out its entire law enforcement, budgetary
and human resources staff, as well as significant portions of its
environmental, fire control and timber sale workforce in order to
meet Bush administration outsourcing quotas.’ Furthermore, internal
documents obtained by the environmental group showed that the
Forest Service will ‘commission studies possibly leading to the
replacement of its entire law enforcement program (650 positions),
natural resource monitoring and data collection (300 positions),
and a significant number of positions (150) from its national fire
center in Boise, Idaho,’ for Fiscal Year 2004; ‘prepare outsourcing
competitions for its entire financial management (2,000 positions)
and human resources (900 positions) staff’ in FY 2005; and ‘will
consider replacing between 5,000 and 10,000 fire fighters with
private contractors’ in FY 2006.

With the plan to fulfill a quota of privatized federal jobs, the
timber companies could well bid for the jobs that are supposed to
be overseeing their very own conduct, said PEER executive director
Jeff Ruch. ‘These schemes appear designed to produce a
Georgia-Pacific National Forest patrolled by private
Joel Stonington

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Lands, Private Bands

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