Moratorium pleases enviros, disheartens industry supporters

Sen. Michael Bennet

The Trump administration has reversed itself and decided not only will it not close any of the Job Corps centers operated by the U.S. Forest Service, but it won’t privatize them either.

While that comes as good news for Colorado’s only such center in Collbran, at least one state senator is wondering why all of this happened.

Last month, the U.S. Departments of Labor and Agriculture announced the planned closure of 25 Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers across the nation, including the one in Collbran.

A few weeks after that, the two departments decided to spare a few from outright closure, but said some would be privatized, including the one in Collbran.

On Wednesday, the news came that none of them would be closed or sold off, prompting U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., to sound off.

“While it’s welcomed news that the administration listened to our calls and reversed their misguided proposal, the fact is this never should have happened in the first place,” Bennet said. “With little warning and no justification, the Trump administration’s plan to privatize the Collbran Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center left the center’s students and employees in limbo.”

The Jobs Corps offers instruction and on-the-job training to students in several occupational careers. It also ensures that graduates earn their high school diplomas before leaving.

The centers offer training in such fields as carpentry, masonry, welding, facilities maintenance, culinary arts and computer networking.

“Collbran’s training

programs have equipped young people with essential job skills, and support critical fire prevention and natural disaster response across the state,” Bennet said. “We will continue our efforts to ensure the Collbran Job Corps, and centers like it across the country, can continue to serve our rural areas for years to come.”

The centers were created 55 years ago by former President Lyndon B. Johnson. There are 128 around the nation, 25 of which are operated by the Forest Service.

In May, the two departments announced that 16 of those Forest Service centers, including Collbran, would be privatized, while the remaining nine would close, including one in Montana.

That prompted U.S. Sen. Steve Daines, a big Trump supporter, to call the president asking him not to close the center in his state. The president agreed, Daines announced in a press release at the time.

That move prompted 18 U.S. senators and 33 representatives from both political parties to send a letter to the secretaries of the two departments — Agricultural Secretary Sonny Perdue and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta — imploring them not to close or privatize the centers.

Local lawmakers who signed that letter include Bennet, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-3rd.

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