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Chavez-DeRemer introduces bipartisan bill to address forestry labor shortage

Reps. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (OR-05) and Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (WA-03) recently introduced a bipartisan Jobs in the Woods Act, which seeks to address the current labor shortage impacting forestry and forestry-related industries. Specifically, the bill would create a grant program for nonprofit organizations, state governments and colleges to utilize for workforce training in forestry-related fields – helping prepare students for jobs in the U.S. Forest Service and the timber industry.

“As I crisscross the 5th District, I’ve heard repeatedly from constituents in forestry-related industries that a lack of workers is negatively affecting their operations,” Chavez-DeRemer said. “Our bipartisan legislation will help expand education opportunities in an effort to grow our workforce.”

The forest products industry is one of the U.S. economy’s largest manufacturing sectors, sustaining over 930,000 families and contributing $295 billion annually. Consumers rely on loggers, haulers, pulp and paper mills, paper packaging plants, and lumber facilities to manufacture a variety of everyday products. However, labor shortages across the timber industry are limiting modernization and investment growth. Necessary government agencies, such as the U.S. Forest Service, are also seeing a decline in qualified applicants to keep the forests safe.

The Jobs in the Woods Act would provide workforce training opportunities to inspire the next generation of forestry workers. With most of the forest manufacturing industry located in rural areas, the bill, if passed, will give individuals the opportunity to learn skills that can serve them and their communities.

The Jobs in the Woods Act attempts to: create education programs for states, nonprofits and colleges through grants of $500,000 to $2,000,000; create the programs in rural and low-income areas to spur economic development, bringing thousands of dollars of investments into rural and underserved communities; create a pool of talented, trained and qualified applicants to fill job openings in forestry-related industries; and partner with programs that have proven to help students find forestry industry jobs and programs that engage with their local communities.
A full text of the bill is available at https://chavez-deremer.house.gov/sites/evo-subsites/chavez-deremer.house.gov/files/evo-media-document/jobs-in-the-woods-act.pdf