CHARLESTON– West Virginia’s Commerce Secretary announced Friday that 15 foresters laid off last year are being recalled immediately.
Plans to lay off 37 division of forestry employees last year sparked protests and concerns about whether the state would be able to effectively fight forest fires.
West Virginia Division of Forestry Director Randy Dye said forestry professionals play a critical role in sustaining the state’s forest resources, including coordinating with loggers.
Since the layoffs last year, these duties have been performed by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection. Gov. Jim Justice said it was “clearly a case where we had the wrong agency performing these activities.”
A combination of a funds transfer from the office of miners’ health, safety and training and existing vacancies within the division of forestry will fund the positions through the end of fiscal year 2017. The governor will ask the legislature to carry over this transfer in the fiscal year 2018 budget bill.