Handicapping the Race for New FS Chief

With the Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and National Park Service all without permanent directors, who knows when the Forest Service can expect a new Chief to replace the retired Tony Tooke. Here are FSEEE’s office pool candidates:

1) Lenise Lago. Lago is currently acting Associate Chief, filling the seat normally occupied by Dan Jiron, who is acting Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment where he oversees the Forest Service. Lago’s permanent position is Deputy Chief for Business Operations, which includes Human Resources. In 2016, she testified that the Forest Service “has worked diligently over the last five years to make meaningful progress” on sexual harassment, citing as evidence that only three instances were reported that year. Whether her testimony is viewed as real progress or a cover-up in light of widely-reported news stories that paint a different picture may affect her chances of becoming the next chief.

2) Leslie Weldon. Weldon has been Deputy Chief for National Forest Systems since 2011. She’s punched her card as district ranger, forest supervisor and regional forester. A biologist by training, Weldon’s rise has been steady and without major controversy (okay, someone on this blog will disabuse me of that naïveté!). She would be the first African-American chief. Cutting against her chances may be a perception that she’s too closely linked to the policies of the Obama administration.

3) Vicki Christiansen. Christiansen is Deputy Chief for State and Private Forestry. She’s been with the Forest Service for only 7 years and, thus, did not work her way up the ranks. Her pre-Forest Service career includes stints as Arizona’s and Washington’s state forester. If Trump learns she’s an expert in using explosives to blast firelines, she’s a shoe-in for the Chief’s job.

Question for the reader: Who should be added to the mix?

9 thoughts on “Handicapping the Race for New FS Chief”

  1. Thanks for getting the conversation started Andy. Just last night I fwded. the Tooke story to some women I work with and said, I think it’s time for a woman to lead the Forest Service. I know, and am extremely glad that, there are well qualified women in the agency – at many levels! Are there any women in RF positions now? I’ve lost track of who is where.
    As for the harassment mess in the agency, and maybe especially in fire, it is past time to cut the crap! The pulaski needs to fall, and hard, on the guys who are harassing women! Geez, it’s 2018 – women have been in field going positions since the 1970’s – that behavior is completely unacceptable.
    It’s time for a thorough house cleaning to make the USFS a safe place for our daughters and other women and restore the respect the agency once had.
    I don’t have much hope that the guy in Oval Office gets it on this issue so who knows who he’d like to see as chief. If a woman is appointed she’ll need to watch out if she is around the prez.

    • And the woman (Beth Pendleton) in R-10 is now so neck-deep in a coverup of WO findings of circumstantial evidence of systemic criminality in at least two ranger districts of R-10 that she’s in full exit mode, as is her deputy.

      Abigail KIMBELL of course, already set the bar on how to expose the absurd fiction that women as agency figureheads will correct a proven history of domestic violence (both sexual and mental abuses) in the “Forest Service Family.”

      • So far one woman at the helm (Gail) didn’t solve it. R’s and D’s in the Administration and the Congress haven’t solved it. Heck the military hasn’t solved it. And not just Fire, the Park Service hasn’t solved their problem with rafting guides.

        That just means it’s a difficult problem. The action of appointing a woman at this time is a symbolic action. And that’s OK.

  2. As long as the conversation revolves around gender or race, the problem will not go away. Symbolism rarely works in the long term and yet here we are. How about a well rounded candidate with sound qualifications and not thought given to gender or race?


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