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Washington, D.C. – Wyoming's congressional delegation and Gov. Jim Geringer announced today that the U.S. Forest Service's office in Newcastle will remain open and all 11 of the office's employees will keep their jobs.

U.S. Sens. Craig Thomas, Mike Enzi, Rep. Barbara Cubin and Gov. Jim Geringer, after months of discussions with Black Hills Forest Supervisor John Twiss, said the decision was right for both the state and the Forest Service.

"We share the Forest Service's desire to manage the Hell Canyon Ranger District in the most efficient manner possible, but we were not convinced that closing the office in Newcastle would lead to improved productivity," the Wyoming leaders said in a joint statement. "We thank the Newcastle community for its efforts to keep the office open and commend Mr. Twiss for his willingness to look at the big picture with us and explore other options to closing the office.

The Newcastle office employs a significant number of workers in a small town.

The office has proven to be a valuable outpost against forest fires and the sound management of the forest requires personnel to be close at hand. It was also never clear to us that closing the office would actually save money."

In 1994 the Forest Service began to consider consolidating its offices in the area. The ranger offices in Newcastle and Custer, S.D. were unified and renamed the Hell Canyon Ranger District. The Newcastle Forest Service office's building lease expires in November 2003 and many worried that at that time the Forest Service would close the office for good.

There is still some question where the physical location of the Newcastle office will be once the current 10-year lease expires, but Thomas, Enzi, Cubin and Geringer said they will work with Twiss at alternatives and assist wherever possible.