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House panel rips federal agency’s ecogrief training, warns of probe if ‘colossal waste’ continues


From AMP.WASHINGTONTIMES.COM

The House Natural Resources Committee demanded answers Tuesday from the Fish and Wildlife Service over its ecogrief training for employees and warned a full investigation could ensue unless the agency cancels the course and uses the money for more important priorities like saving endangered animals.

Chairman Bruce Westerman led committee Republicans in denouncing the training as “extremely tone deaf” at a time when FWS is struggling to calibrate its mission of habitat and species conservation.

“We are deeply concerned that this kind of meaningless pandering is a colossal waste of taxpayer funding, does nothing to further the purpose of the USFWS and diverts important resources away from critical agency functions,” Mr. Westerman and the other lawmakers wrote to the agency.

The letter was first obtained exclusively by The Washington Times, which revealed the ecogrief training last month.

The agency begged employees to sign up for the class, saying it would offer them a chance to work through feelings of stress or despair at the changing environment, particularly climate change.

“The ever-changing challenges impacting our conservation work, our neighbors and the communities we live, work and recreate in including droughts, wildland fires, declines or loss of species, declining habitat and impacts to public outdoor recreation add up,” organizer Katherine Hill said in her email to employees last week ahead of one round of training in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

DOCUMENT: Letter to U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service on ecogrief training

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To Mr. Westerman, an Arkansas Republican, it sounded like bunk.

“We and many of our constituents are appalled to see our tax dollars funding ‘ecogrief’ workshops instead of science-based, environmentally sound policies,” he and his colleagues said in a letter to FWS Director Martha Williams.

They demanded documents and emails detailing why the agency decided to offer the training, including who gave the go-ahead. They also asked about the cost and where in FWS’ budget the money was coming from.

“The USFWS should immediately divert the funding for these workshops to activities that further the mission of the agency, like habitat conservation and species recovery,” the lawmakers wrote. “Anything beyond this goal will prompt swift oversight from the Republican House majority.”… (Read more)

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