From Politico today:
The Forest Service has long struggled with staffing shortages, but the challenges have intensified amid a hyper-competitive labor market and cost-of-living concerns.
The U.S. Forest Service has had chronic staffing shortages for over a decade. But amid rising wages and a fierce competition for labor across the U.S. economy, the agency faces a particularly bleak hiring picture, even as it looks to add an untold number of forest management staff (the Forest Service has declined to estimate just how many people it needs to hire) — to fight wildfires in what could be another tough season, carry out an aggressive new land management plan and continue regular forest management and surveys.
In an email obtained by POLITICO, Forest Service officials are already warning employees in California that there have been 50 percent fewer applications submitted for GS3 through GS9 firefighting positions this year compared to last. And regional Forest Service officials from across the Western fire regions reported struggling with low staffing on a Feb. 15 call with Fire and Aviation Management, the minutes of which were obtained by POLITICO. “Hiring frenzy – lack of candidates, unable to staff 7 days in many places. Continued decline of folks to do the work,” the minutes read, describing comments made by Regional Fire Director Alex Robertson.