Following a conversation with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley today announced that federal Civilian Conservation Center (CCC) Job Corps sites will remain open and operated by the U.S. Forest Service. This news follows the Trump administration’s prior attempts to shut down CCC sites and end the program in its current form.
“Today’s news is a huge victory for the people of Oregon and for rural communities across the country,” Merkley said. “CCCs play an invaluable role not only in providing job training for young adults who come from low-income and at-risk backgrounds, but are also critical to protecting our communities from wildfire. In Oregon alone, CCC students have provided hundreds of thousands of hours of support fighting wildfires and making our forests more resilient to fire.
At a time when the West has faced devastating, back-to-back fire seasons, dismantling the CCCs was a reckless and wrong-headed decision. That’s why as soon as I heard the announcement last month, I pushed back aggressively, and I am pleased my colleagues on both sides of the aisle joined me in this fight. Oregonians can breathe a huge sigh of relief that our beloved CCCs are safe and our students will remain on the job.”
Merkley used his position as the top Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee to aggressively lobby Trump administration officials, including Secretary Perdue, and to bring together a broad bipartisan coalition of Senators and Congressman to push to keep the centers open. Earlier this month, Merkley led a bipartisan, bicameral effort to save the CCCs, and he co-led legislation with Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) to require the administration to keep the centers open.