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Forest workers turn back the clock

Butte Falls Ranger District employees' new offices are old CCC-built structures

BUTTE FALLS ' U.S. Forest Service employees will step back in time when they report to work at the Butte Falls Ranger District office Thursday morning.

To cut expenses, the staff is moving from its leased building to four nearby picturesque but smaller structures the agency owns that were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression in the early 1930s.

The move will save the district up to &

36;130,000 annually, said Joel King, ranger in charge of both the Butte Falls and Prospect districts.

We were struggling because we had the lease on the modern office space but also had to maintain these old buildings, explained King, noting he would rather invest the money on people and the land than pay for a lease.

Last month marked the end of a 10-year lease the agency had on the building owned by Batzer Inc.

— All four (CCC) buildings are part of the historic compound here which is one of the classics for that era of construction here in Region 6, King said, referring to the region which includes all national forests in Oregon and Washington.

The three buildings on the south side of the street will be used for fire, recreation and main district office staff. The agency's building across the street, once the ranger's house, will be used for conferences.

Other CCC buildings in the district include the Imnaha and Lodgepole guard stations. The former now can be rented by the public while plans call for the latter to become a rental, he said.

We are trying to emphasize the historical nature of the Forest Service ' the richness we all share, he said, noting the rentals help the agency pay for maintenance.

Although square footage estimates weren't available, King observed, We'll have much less square footage to work in.

Staff has dwindled over the years. The Butte Falls district used to have 90 employees; now it has no more than 20, King said.

Part of the change was brought about by specialists being shared by both the Butte Falls and Prospect districts, he said.

That's part of becoming more efficient, he said.

The CCC was created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on April 4, 1933, to give young American men jobs in the woods during the Depression years. Some three million served until the program ended in 1942, when most of the enrollees marched off to war.

All the CCC structures are built solidly on local stone foundations and timber cut from the local forest.

Pointing to the carved wooden beams some 10 inches in diameter inside the former ranger's house, King said the CCC crews were taught by master craftsmen.

This represents the last of the craftsman era, he said.

Two huge sequoia redwoods growing in front of the three structures were planted about the same time the buildings were built, King said.

One of the things important to us is to continue to serve the public here, he said. Small towns are important to us.

We are trying to do this in a manner that supports the community, makes better use of our dollars and frees up an additional resource in the building we have been leasing, he added.

The agency will continue to work out of Butte Falls as it has for decades, he said, offering Christmas tree and firewood permits among other duties.

We'll still be open for business, he said.

The district office number and mailing address remains the same: 865-2700 and P.O. Box 227, Butte Falls, OR 97522.

Forest Service District Ranger Joel King is moving the Butte Falls offices into four historic buildings nearby to save money. The structures were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell - Mail Tribune Bob Pennell