Contact: Bonnie Strawser - 252-473-1131
October 25, 2006
North Carolina SE Workforce Planning Fact Sheet ------- Regional Fact Sheet
Southeast National Wildlife Refuge System Reorganizes
- Personnel Reductions to Offset Rises in Operational Costs
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is realigning it’s workforce to address declining budgets anticipated over the next three years. Nearly 90 positions in the Southeast Region -- about 10 percent of the refuge workforce -- will be eliminated.
In North Carolina, nine positions will be abolished on five national wildlife refuges over the next three years. That includes: one refuge manager and one maintenance position on Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge; one refuge manager on Mackay Island National Wildlife Refuge; one refuge manager, one maintenance position, and one administrative position on Roanoke River National Wildlife Refuge; one maintenance position on Mattamuskeet National Wildlife Refuge; and one refuge manager and one maintenance position on Pee Dee National Wildlife Refuge. Of the nine losses for North Carolina, three positions are vacant at this time. In addition to these nine positions, ten positions have been eliminated already since the budget crisis became evident in 2004. Those positions include three at Alligator River, one at Cedar Island, one at Mackay Island, three at Mattamuskeet, and two at Pocosin Lakes.
Mike Bryant, Refuge Manager for Alligator River National Wildlife and Project Leader for the North Carolina Coastal Plain Refuge Complex explained the seriousness of the situation, "With the cost of living rising and our refuge budgets remaining level or declining, refuges across the country have been rapidly approaching a situation where it would take every dime we have just to pay salaries. That would leave no money at all to manage these refuges for the wildlife that use them. While I understand the need to plan a way to survive this financial crisis, it hurts to see refuge positions targeted for abolishment. Our people are, and have always been, our most valuable asset. We've been doing more with less for a long time. I think we've reached a point where we have to accept that we now will do less with less."
Loss of these positions on North Carolina National Wildlife Refuges will result in less management capability for migratory birds and endangered and threatened species, which are refuge trust resources. There will be fewer services provided for the public, fewer wildlife surveys, and less time for maintenance on existing facilities, including buildings, roads, parking areas, trails, water control structures, bridges, dikes, levees, heavy equipment, and vehicles. Over time, it is likely public access will become more restricted due to the inability of refuge staff to maintain the refuge at a level which would allow for safe public use.
“We have to take a hard look at just exactly what our core priorities really are,” said Sam Hamilton, Southeast Regional Director. “These are tough decisions necessary to help the Service secure its place as one of the country's premiere conservation stewards.”
In recent years, operating budgets have been generally flat. Annual cost of living increases, rising energy and fuel bills, and other costs continue to increase each year. The challenge of continuing to operate in an austere budget environment is particularly pronounced here in the Southeast Region which employs more than 20 percent - 748 employees - of the Service's National Wildlife Refuge System staff. The Service manages 128 national wildlife refuges across the Southeast, more than any other region.
The effect of these cutbacks will be reduced capabilities spread out over a number of different areas which may include reduction in public access opportunities at some national wildlife refuges and scaling back education and outreach opportunities for educators, students, and instructors, and reductions in some biological monitoring and maintenance programs.
The Refuge System is focusing efforts on the highest priority, mission-critical actions and locations, and reducing personnel to address the declining budgets.
- 87.5 positions throughout the Southeast national wildlife refuges will be phased out over a five-year period. 8.5 positions in the Regional Office and 79 at refuges in the field will be lost.
- Reorganizing seven refuges into existing refuge complexes.
Many workers in the abolished positions will be eligible to retire or will voluntarily transfer. Also, if approved, buy-outs and early retirements through Voluntary Early Retirement Authority and Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay may be available to offer eligible employees. Only after all of these options have been exhausted will directed reassignments be considered. There are no plans to request the authority for a Reduction-in-Force (RIF) to reach our target.
For more information, visit: http://www.fws.gov/southeast/workforce
|Location||Number of Positions Abolished FY05-FY06||Current Number of Positions FY06||Number of Positions To Be Abolished FY07-FY11||Percent Loss Proposed for FY07-FY11|
|Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands||1||27||2||7%|
* Positions will be eliminated from Regional Office by the end of FY2008.