Funds for Nevada's Green-Industry Grows Trees, But Few Jobs
By Pete Griffin
federal stimulus grant of nearly $500,000 to grow trees and
stimulate the economy in Nevada yielded a whopping 1.72
jobs, according to government statistics.
In 2009, the U.S.
Forest Service awarded $490,000 of stimulus money to
Nevada's Clark County Urban Forestry Revitalization Project,
aimed at revitalizing urban neighborhoods in the county with
trees, plants, and green-industry training.
The project produced only 1.72 full-time jobs.
Recovery.gov, the U.S. government's official website related
to Recovery Act spending, the project created 1.72 permanent
jobs. In addition, the Nevada state Division of Forestry
generated one full-time temporary job and 11 short-term
It also resulted in
the planting of hundreds of trees -- which critics say is
about the only good thing that came out of this stimulus
"Looking at the
failure of the stimulus to live up to its promises, not just
in Nevada, but throughout America, I think the question
becomes ‘is there any good use of stimulus money?'" said
Douglas Kellogg, communications manager for National
Taxpayers Union, in an email to FoxNews.com.
A Nevada state
official has a simple explanation for the low job growth.
"If the question is
‘was this a job-creating project?’ the answer is 'no, it
wasn't,'" said Bob Conrad, public information officer for
the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
"It was one of a number of projects that we do believe
helped improve natural resources in the state."
Conrad said the
$490,000 is being used for a number of projects. Those
projects include tree inventories, salaries for staff at the
nurseries through the Nevada Division of Forestry, plant
material and plant supplies.
"The goal obviously
was to make trees available to local government entities,
parks, schools, things like that, at our state nursery,"
said Conrad. "We basically grew and provided about 2,000
trees to these local entities."
The grant also funds
Spanish-language training for Hispanics in the landscaping
and tree care industry to "develop
and increase job retention."
Conrad could not say
how many, if any, jobs were created by that training.
"We had to put
together projects within very specific parameters. If the
particular project you're referring to didn't create jobs
necessarily, that's really something that's beyond the
parameters of the
and it's really something you'd have to ask the federal
government, the U.S. Forest Service."
Repeated calls by
FoxNews.com to the U.S. Forest Service were not returned.
A project summary
provided by Conrad showed an even lower amount of full-time
jobs, with 1.37 full-time employees at the Las Vegas
Conrad explained that
the number of full-time jobs is low because most of the
tasks, such as planting trees or driving plants from the
nursery to participating schools or parks, are given to
individuals on a short-term basis via a temp agency. For
example, 11 people were hired temporarily for different
aspects of the project, such as planters, trainers, drivers,
and individuals to develop programs.
"You're not going to
hire a driver full-time for this entire project if the
driver is only needed for a limited number of hours," said
Conrad. "It wouldn't make good business sense to hire a
full-time person to do something that's really just a
short-term need for the project."
Nevada has the highest
in the nation, which, according to latest U.S. Department of
Labor statistics, stood at 12.9 percent in July.
Kellogg said that the
low job growth from this project could rub taxpayers the
"Job-killing taxes, or
more debt for a downgraded nation, are not likely to bring
relief to our unemployment crisis," said Kellogg.
Conrad said that only
60 percent of the stimulus money has been used so far and of
that amount, 90 to 95 percent of it is already allocated to
salaries, sub grants, and other projects.
"The project isn't
done," said Conrad.
But Kellogg believes
it's a bad use of taxpayer money during these tough economic
"The president may
well propose new stimulus efforts when Congress returns from
recess,” said Kellogg, “and those who learn from past
stimulus debacles will not be fooled again.”