Associated Press Published

37 West Virginia Forestry Layoffs Averted for Now


A state board has voted to postpone a plan to lay off 37 West Virginia Division of Forestry employees.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that the State Personnel Board voted unanimously Thursday in front of about 70 forestry employees.

The decision to delay the layoffs immediately drew a plea to reconsider from the Department of Commerce, which oversees forestry. Department spokeswoman Chelsea Ruby said that for every month of delay, another three employees have to be eliminated.

Foresters and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s administration have blamed the layoffs on lawmakers. Earlier this year, the Legislature passed a lower severance tax on the timber industry than Tomblin suggested. As a result, the Division of Forestry was short $1.7 million.

Ruby said the shortfall can’t be addressed by limiting employee hours.