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National Forests may merge

A possible merger of Caribou-Targhee and Bridger-Teton is in talks.

So what would this merger do for taxpayers and employees who work at the forest services?

It’s a double edged sword. On one side– taxpayers could save up to $1 million a year from this merge. The other side– involves relocation and possible jobs cuts.

“Given the economic situation that we’re in today…I think we’re obligated to at least look at this opportunity,” said Larson.

Carbiou-Targhee forest supervisor Brent Larson has been working for the forest service for over 35 years. Over those years he’s seen all types of cutbacks and merges. But he’s always stayed true to one line.

“It’s not about me personally — it’s about the good of what we can do to manage the resource and save taxpayer money,” said Larson.

“What we’re proposing is one supervisor’s office for management oversight,” he added.

Bridger-Teton proposed selling its office in Jackson worth $11 million.

The forest service would use those profits to build a new facility in one of three possible locations — Driggs, Alpine or Idaho Falls.

That could save taxpayers a million dollars a year. However…

“It’s going to effect forest service employees,” said Larson.

That is — the employees who work in the supervisor’s office. Some will be faced with longer commutes — others will be out of a job.

“With the technology and the business processes…we think we can do it. Without affecting the management of the forest,” said Larson.

But district managers would not be affected by the merge.

“The day-to-day management, the visitor contact, the operation of our campgrounds..that all occurs at the district level,” said Larson.

Meaning the average visitor shouldn’t notice a difference in services.

Before this can go through, both state and U.S. representatives have to be contacted about the merge. A decision could come by late January.

The Caribou-Targhee National Forests recently merged making a nearly 3-million combined acre forest.

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