Secretary Perdue’s Email re: Interim Chief Christiansen

Here’s the note from Secretary Purdue:

Dear Forest Service Family:

I want you to know that I understand that it has been a difficult week in the Forest Service. While challenges remain in fostering a workplace that is rewarding, responsive, and respectful, the Forest Service has taken concrete steps to improve the working environment for all employees. In fact, the Office of Inspector General is issuing a report on those issues later today, which will confirm progress with new processes to combat sexual harassment and protect victims from retaliation. The report will also highlight ongoing concerns and make constructive recommendations on what can be done better. At the same time, the Forest Service must focus on the mission of promoting and maintaining healthy and productive forests for the taxpayers and future generations.

To help achieve these goals, today I have appointed Vicki Christiansen as Interim Chief of the Forest Service. Vicki has been serving as Deputy Chief of State and Private Forestry in the agency and brings with her the experience of a long career in forestry, natural resources, and fire leadership positions. She takes on her new role during a time of challenges and new opportunities at the Forest Service, and I trust everyone will make her feel welcome.

As you know, our policy priorities for the Forest Service include returning forests to health and productivity, finally fixing the problem of fire funding, and making sure that Good Neighbor Authority is more than just a slogan. With seven years at the Forest Service and 30 with the states of Arizona and Washington, Vicki knows what is needed to restore our forests and put them back to work for the taxpayers. As a former wildland firefighter and fire manager, she knows first-hand that failure to properly maintain forests leads to longer and more severe fire seasons. And as a former State Forester, she knows the benefits of Good Neighbor Authority and how best to partner with our state and local colleagues. Vicki’s professional experience will complement these efforts and help us achieve those objectives.

As we promote and maintain healthy, productive forests and preserve our natural resources, we will work to ensure a place where people can work with respect and dignity.

I am confident that the entire Forest Service family will rally behind Vicky Christiansen as Interim Chief as we move forward.


Sonny Perdue


Yup, IMHO choosing a woman as interim is a good symbolic stroke, as well as someone who understands the Fire Biz. FWIW I also think that choosing someone who came up through State and Private will add some thought diversity.

7 thoughts on “Secretary Perdue’s Email re: Interim Chief Christiansen”

  1. Sec. Perdue may be correct that forest maintenance may influence fire severity but he’s way off in the rest of this statement: “she knows first-hand that failure to properly maintain forests leads to longer and more severe fire seasons.”
    Climate and weather, two things the current administration is completely in denial on, are key drivers of fire season duration. It would be nice if the Secretary’s writers would be more accurate. As a farmer, he certainly wouldn’t confuse a chicken breast with a leg so he shouldn’t issue forest related statements with inaccuracies.

  2. And worse yet, if we are to accept the “Dear Forest Service Family” metaphor (which is somehow still being used as a warm and fuzzy greeting despite a storied pattern of persistent domestic sexual and mental abuse — regardless of whether the head of household is either a Daddy or Mommy) … You guys might want to rethink the implications to such framing.

    Frankly, it’s over-the-top, reality-show, creepy.

  3. Here would be my letter to the interim Chief:

    Dear Vicky (it’s ok we are family):

    You inherited a mess from a perception standpoint. Many if not all of these fire line harassment issues of bad sometimes criminal behavior were known for years and will continue under your watch until 1) you ensure fire line leadership is ethical, rule abiding/enforcing folk, 2) we manage forests so that 2 billion a year to fund public leeching contractors and seasonal ski bum/carnie-like party on adrenalin junky types to fight fire is no longer needed , 3) require EEO folks to work for the employee equal to working to limit agency liability/CYA, and 4) we identify and correct problems from the top down. In other words, with all this bad behavior why is it only exposed by the low men and women on the totem pole? Where are the line officers when it comes to ferreting out bad behavior? How many employees in leadership once outed are simply promoted and moved rather than fired along with a forest supervisor admitting they failed in their oversight (we all know the regional office and WO are filled with these types AND in addition they have few technical skills to do their exile job).

  4. Near.. this reminds me of a question .. if the Wildfire Funding Fix Congress is working on comes out, will that give the FS more/less/the same control over managing fire?

    • The more money we give to fire, the more they will spend. If billions of dollars aren’t enough, then a funding fix won’t do much more. One way to ‘protect’ timber funding is to outsource the fieldwork, dedicating the funds and making them off-limits to ‘fire borrowing’. Even if timber gets its budgeted amount, it will still be far short of what is needed to increase the amount of active management. The USFS doesn’t have to manpower or expertise to do more, each year. The fire folks seem dedicated to the ‘big box’ theory of firefighting. Uncontrolled fires are very poor at thinning and under-burning.


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