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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow ODFW TO CUT TWO LA GRANDE POSITIONS


By Dick Mason

Observer Staff Writer

Budget woes have forced the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to cut two La Grande-based positions.

The ODFW has eliminated the Northeast Region's habitat permitting biologist and wildlife landowner assistance biologist positions.

The cuts have been necessary because of the $877,000 the ODFW has been forced to cut statewide. The reduction was mandated because of the projected $477 million shortfall in state revenue for the 2001-03 biennium.

Gov. John Kitzhaber has asked the ODFW and other state agencies to make across-the-board budget cuts as a result.

The ODFW has cut $877,000 by eliminating 18 positions statewide and closing four fish hatcheries in Western Oregon. The elimination of the personnel positions takes effect on Oct. 1.

Craig Ely, supervisor of the ODFW's Northeast Region, said that dealing with budget reductions is agonizing when it involves jobs.

"I know these people'' around the state, Ely said. "It has been gut-wrenching.''

The landowner assistance position was open and will not be filled. The landowner assistance biologist was responsible for helping landowners with wildlife damage problems, the development of habitat on their property for wildlife like upland game birds and more.

The habitat permitting biologist helps landowners deal with state agencies like the Division of State Lands, the Department of Environmental Quality, the State Forestry Department and the Water Resources Department. The biologist helps landowners get permits for things like water rights.

"He streamlines the permit process,'' Ely said.

Ely noted that if a landowner applies for a water rights permit, the permitting biologist will submit necessary comments to the Water Resources Department. This helps the landowner get his application processed in a timely manner.

The habitat-permitting biologist in La Grande has been offered another ODFW position in Pendleton, Ely said.

The ODFW will continue providing service to landowners in spite of the cuts. Landowners, though, may experience delays.

"We won't be able to respond as quickly as we have in the past,'' Ely said.

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