Human Resources Trammels Wilderness Staff


To the general public, talk about “position descriptions” and “job series” makes eyes roll and mouths yawn. Within the Forest Service, however, few topics get blood pressures raised faster than the agency’s hiring and promotion practices.

In a recent internal report, The Forest Service Wilderness Career Ladder:
In Search of the Missing Rungs
, a group of wilderness rangers deconstructs the Forest Service’s dysfunctional promotion rules that bar experienced personnel from being “qualified” for advancement.

For any employee who has hit the opaque glass ceiling, it’s a must-read.

4 thoughts on “Human Resources Trammels Wilderness Staff”

  1. Andy, if you listen to the folks on the blog, there is no more “trammeling” here, than any other series or positions, but perhaps better documentation.

  2. Other “niche” employees also want their own better fitting job series. I think I would be happy if they did, leaving only forestry technicians left in the forestry technician job series. *smirk*

    Yes, I did read or scan over the link and found it interesting, having some similar (and some differences) issues with inequalities and “Professional Series”. I can definitely see the field person’s point of view. When you are told that previous career experience is worthless for a promotion, it is hard to keep a good attitude. My time in grade qualifies me for a GS-8. Last summer, I was a GS-5. It used to be that a Forestry Technician could jump two grades, at times. You could jump from a GS-5 to a GS-7, then also jump from a GS-7 to a GS-9. They have since restricted that practice to the Professional 0460.

    In the past, a Forestry Technician could get a GS-9 Timber Sale Administrator job. I pushed hard to get there but, with the timber glut, the need for them dropped. Only permanent employees will get those jobs, whether they have direct experience, or not. I don’t know how many people I have seen fail at becoming a certified Timber Sale Administrator. Basically, I no longer have a career ladder to get to a GS-9. If I get the GS-6 job I applied for, I will be doing GS-9 level work, as I have often done in the past. Of course, I will happily accept the GS-6 and work as hard as I always do. It might be the job I was destined to do… as a lowly temporary employee.

    Oh… On a side note, I did see that temporary fire fighters now have the option of the Federal Health Plan. Only for them.

  3. As I think I’ve mentioned before, I can speak from experience and say that this is a very real problem. I spent months this winter dealing with HR to get them to recognize my in-progress master’s degree in outdoor recreation management as qualifying for the 0401 Interpretive Specialist PD – this after I had already had the degree program reviewed and approved in April of last year when I was being hired into a SCEP slot. I was in the same boat with those mentioned in the report who were left wondering whether they’d be kicked out of their jobs as unqualified. It’s truly an overwrought, needlessly-complicated, absurdly-difficult system and really ought to be Exhibit A for governmental reform.

    I will note that thankfully, at least in some areas, the “we don’t want park rangers” cultural thing is dying out. Several of the FS’ major visitor centers (including MGVC, where I work) are using the 0025 Park Ranger PD for hiring seasonal interpreters. It’s the right PD for the job. Yeah, yeah, I know, “district rangers” and all that, but the fact is that *every other federal land management agency* calls its field interpretive staff “rangers” and hires them with the 0025 PD. The public perception is, almost without exception, that we are “rangers” anyway.


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