Ravalli County commissioners express anger over changes at Trapper Creek

Posted at 5:38 PM, Jun 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-14 11:21:26-04

HAMILTON – Ravalli County commissioners are voicing their anger over a federal decision to dramatically change operations at the Trapper Creek Job Center, saying it not only threatens a resource for dealing with fires and other emergencies, but jeopardizes opportunities for young adults to change their lives.

The Trump Administration’s recent decision impacting the future of sixteen Job Corps Centers across the country is hitting especially close to home in the Bitterroot. While the Trapper Creek Job Center wasn’t slated for closure like Anaconda, a plan to privatize operations isn’t sitting well at all.

Hundreds showed up Tuesday night at a public meeting to express their fears of losing the center, which has been key to everything from wildfire recovery to maintaining trails. But there’s also worries about losing a program which has helped many young adults to turn their lives around.

Trapper Creek Job Corps
The Trapper Creek Job Corps outside of Darby. (MTN News photo)

On Thursday, Ravalli County commissioners finished drafting a strongly-worded letter to the Secretary of the Interior, and Labor Secretary, complaining the community hadn’t been given any chance to comment on changes at Trapper Creek.

“It is shocking that such an important program can be threatened without holding so much as a single discussion on the local level,” said Ravalli County commissioner Jeff Burrows. “Our community is reeling from the news and we angered at the lack of communication on a subject that in no special measure impacts us all.”

A staffer for Senator Steve Daines tells commissioners he couldn’t explain the reasons for the decision to change Trapper Creek’s operations by the Trump Administration.

Commissioners will also send the letter to Montana’s Congressional delegation, Governor Steve Bullock and area legislators in hopes of enlisting more help to head off privatization.