Immigration policy could cause forestry labor shortage
Every year, America needs millions of new trees to rebuild forests ravaged by natural disasters or cleared by logging. But this year, forestry experts fear an impending labor shortage.
June 24, the Trump administration cut off most H-2B work visas, meaning new seasonal workers from Mexico and South America can’t join forestry crews.
The trouble, industry leaders say, is that America depends on H-2B workers for reforestation that takes place over six months starting in October. The timber industry is pressing the White House to make an exemption.
“These crews are so important, not just for loggers but for young forest establishment, wildfire prevention and environmental health,” said Rex Storm, executive vice president of Associated Oregon Loggers Inc., a trade association.
In fiscal year 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor certified 11,000 visas for forestry and conservation.
This summer, President Trump banned new H-2B visas to open as many jobs as possible for American workers during the pandemic.