Lyle Laverty on “If I Were Chief of the Forest Service”

Thanks to the Rocky Mountaineers, our Region 2 retirement group, for this link to an Evergreen interview with Lyle Laverty.  I have been out of the loop on potential Secretaries, Undersecretaries and Chiefs and perhaps others can share what they’ve heard…

Interesting that Lyle has worked in both DOI and USDA.  I notice that Evergreen said that he and Michael Rains were candidates. I have worked with both of these folks, and they are both very good.  I wonder who else is on the list?

Any folks can contribute a post on “if I were Chief” to this blog, we are not limited to folks identified by the new administration.  Just email me at [email protected]. Y ou all can pick any of Lyle’s statements to discuss..because we have folks outside the agency here, we can kick it off with:


“There is great value in tenure. Land and resources are complex. As an agency, we need to encourage folks to become established members of communities. We need them to understand the complexity of the resources they are stewarding. Tenure translates into learning and accountability. With constant changes, the individual never sees the full outcome of the decisions they make or the work they perform, they never understand the community, or develop the relationships necessary to achieve outcomes. Perhaps a bonus system for tenure could change the active movement. The current alignment of the agency’s human capital does not encourage learning or the formation of the strong community ties that were for decades an integral part of the Forest Service’s great success.”


4 thoughts on “Lyle Laverty on “If I Were Chief of the Forest Service””

  1. For whatever it’s worth…

    There’s this from the Denver Post:

    As Colorado parks director, Lyle Laverty revamped and upgraded state parks, built luxury cabins and boosted attendance despite budget cuts.

    He also used public funds to buy a riding horse, and he traveled to Lebanon and Tanzania.

    Laverty’s record during six years at the helm of the parks division shows his flair for managing the cash- strapped parks and his penchant for personal perks, say current and former state officials….

    “God help us if he takes over our national parks,” said Bob Goodnough, former controller for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources.

    “Just working with the man and seeing his record with parks, I can just imagine what he can do on a national level,” Goodnough said….

    In 2001, Laverty became director of the Colorado Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation – overseeing 40 parks throughout the state.

    Almost immediately, Laverty began wrestling with budget cuts from the General Assembly, fires and drought.

    Within two years, 30 parks employees were laid off. The number of seasonal employees was cut in half. The backlog in deferred maintenance grew to more than $150 million.

  2. As to tenure, every community likes a great ranger or supervisor and wants them to stay. But the converse – a weak, poor performer – is also true, when a quick transfer becomes expedient. Plus, with so many career rungs on the ladder to step through, there is simply no way a senior executive can develop absent several short-tenure positions. I have long argued for fast-tracking gifted people with executive potential (Dale Robertson was a forest supervisor at 31, eg), with a slower parallel track for those destined and desiring to excel as a district ranger, staff officer, or resource expert. Long-tenured, experienced rangers can provide much of the local knowledge and backbone essential to an effective field organization.

  3. Michael Rains would be an unmitigated disaster. At USFS, he seemed to be the epitome of obsequious sycophant to those above him and a petty, vindictive tyrant to those below him. He was dogged by programmatic disasters and failures throughout his career. Of course in this age of tight budgets and all, we can thank him for diverting resources from forestry research to set up social science stations/labs in NYC and Baltimore. Talk about mission-creep wastefulness.


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