Senate passes Tester’s land management workforce bill

Senator’s bill now heads to the President’s desk

(Big Sandy, Mont.) – As wildfires continue to burn in Montana, Senator Jon Tester’s Land Management Workforce Flexibility Act unanimously passed the Senate and now heads to the President’s desk to be signed into law.

Tester’s bill allows temporary seasonal wildland firefighters to compete for vacant permanent positions in the federal workforce. Many temporary seasonal employees, including wildland firefighters, are currently cut off from many career advancement opportunities that are available to permanent seasonal employees.

Following yesterday’s Forest Service report showing that the agency’s wildfire costs have more than tripled over the past 20 years, Tester pointed out that land management agencies need qualified workers in addition to more resources.

“As wildfire costs consume more and more of the federal budget, we need greater flexibility to fight fires and manage our public lands. But we also need the best-trained workers on the job,” Tester said. “This bill will give those folks greater employment opportunities, and I urge the President to sign it quickly into law.”

Tester’s bill is supported by many groups, including the International Association of Fire Fighters, the American Federation of Government Employees, the National Association of Government Employees, the Association of National Park Rangers and the National Federation of Federal Employees.

The Senator’s bill removes barriers in the current hiring system that lead to higher training costs and a less safe workforce. To be eligible, employees must accrue four seasons of work with good performance.

Tester’s bill, which is cosponsored by Senators Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Gary Peters (D-Mich.), is available online HERE.