FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 21, 2019
Kenji Haroutunian, 310-489-3281, firstname.lastname@example.org
Friends Of Joshua Tree Provides Grants to Furloughed Workers via Launch of Impact Relief Fund
Friends group gives $10,000 to furloughed contractors of Joshua Tree National Park
JOSHUA TREE, CA – Continuing to support the community of Joshua Tree and the Park Service employees most affected by the 35 day federal government shutdown, Friends Of Joshua Tree has established a grant program to help contract workers who get no back pay cover their losses and pay their bills.
Beyond the damage done inside the Park boundaries, the shutdown created financial hardship for furloughed Park staff as well as contract workers who do work for the Park in such areas as road maintenance, facilities management, direct conservation service, environmental research, education and archeological field work.
“Now that the shutdown is over, Park staff are back to work and have received back pay for the time they were furloughed” said John Lauretig, Executive Director of Friends Of Joshua Tree and a former Park Ranger in Joshua Tree. “The contract workers who lost the entire month of January did not receive any such payment, so we’re stepping up to help” he said. FOJT has received increased donations as the shutdown persisted, due to both media coverage of the volunteer efforts being led by the community and to the generosity of people across the nation who love Joshua Tree National Park.
“We know some of the damage to the Park will not be seen from the road, or at the gates. Some will take decades to heal; but some of the damage is to local businesses, families and workers who got caught in the political crossfire” said Lauretig, referring to the stalemate that continues to plague our lawmakers as they figure out how to pay for everything from border security to public lands protection.
Impact Relief Fund checks were distributed at a meetup of Great Basin Institute (GBI) contract employees on Monday morning. “it was really great; it felt honest and sincere. The support from the community was awesome. A lot of toilets were cleaned to get us this cash.” commented one staffer who wished to remain anonymous.
“Thanks again so much to Friends of Joshua Tree for the incredibly generous gift to us GBI Employees. It is deeply appreciated! Let me know if I can do anything to support Friends. Respectfully, Seth Shteir” wrote another longtime Joshua Tree resident and advocate who was at the meeting.
Park officials estimate an average of 140 hours were lost during the shutdown for contract workers. Over $10,000 of grant money has been awarded so far, and FOJT will continue to accept applications from JTNP contractors until funds run out.
In addition to offering grants via the Impact Relief Fund, FOJT will continue to actively fund and support JOSAR (Search & Rescue in JTNP), Joshua Tree Climber Stewards, Climbers Coffee, the Hardware Anchor Replacement Project, and the annual Climb Smart event in October.
Friends of Joshua Tree is a 501 c(3) non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the historical tradition of climbing in Joshua Tree National Park. Friends of Joshua Tree advocates, communicates, and encourages ethical and environmentally sound climbing practices, and works to shape park policy on climbing and climbing-related issues. Toward that end, Friends of Joshua Tree acts as the liaison between the climbing community and the National Park service.