The Forest Service Is Facing Uncertain Times
Warm Springs, VA – Uncertain Times Ahead For The Forest Service
Nationally, the Forest Service continues to address the cost of managing our National Forests with the funding made available for this important mission in these challenging times. The George Washington-Jefferson National Forest must balance the amount and type of work we accomplish with uncertain budgets and unprecedented changes. As funding levels decline, the amount of goods and services has declined.
The public noticed some changes on the James River and Warm Springs Ranger Districts during 2011. In an effort to match up our current levels of funding with our program of work, reduction in services took place in several areas. The workforces at the Warm Springs and James River Ranger Districts have effectively merged together as one unit.
The levels of road maintenance, trail maintenance, and campground maintenance to include mowing, trash removal and restroom cleaning declined in 2011. Trail maintenance, and special use permits also decreased. The Longdale Day Use area opened with reduced services. Other campgrounds operated with shortened seasons.
In 2012, more decisions will be made as to the best way to meet the public needs with anticipated levels of funding. One change that is going to occur is the recreation operation at Lake Moomaw has been contracted to American Land and Leisure, a national company that manages public recreation areas across the country. These new partners will manage the recreation operations under Forest Service standards and guidelines on a for-profit basis.
One of the main criteria we considered was whether or not the recreation operations at Lake Moomaw could be accomplished at less cost by a private company and provide an appropriate level of services to the public. The operation will be supervised by the Forest Service on a daily basis and be managed to our standards and guidelines. We are making additional evaluations in order to match our organization and program of work with expected continued declines in funding for the years to come.