Regional Forester Advertisements: What the Forest Service Chief Has to Say

I’m posting this note from Jim Furnish separately from our previous discussion on the topic, as I appreciate his ability to get the information from the Chief directly, and I think it’s important.  We will hear many more bad things, no doubt, between now and November. I doubt that it will change anyone’s mind about who to vote for, but plenty of $ will be spent.  I think it’s important to try to figure out what’s really happening, though. Again, many thanks to Jim and to Chief Christiansen for answering him!

From Jim,

After speaking with an RF and a For Supv I gambled and sent a direct email to Chief Thursday eve about 6:30 pm EDT. She called me immediately!! Yes, I remain surprised… but grateful!

We had a good discussion. Here’s what I know — Milwaukee job was just filled, and 3 other RF jobs are or soon will be vacant (Denver, Albq, Ogden). Chief did not specify how many, but suggested that others plan to retire soon. Advertising those only would make sitting RFs lame ducks pending retirement. Thus the decision to advertise all to create a pool to fill jobs quickly and seamlessly — might involve transfers, promotions, bring in hires from outside FS, etc. Chief Christiansen was strong in stating there is NO ulterior plan to sack a bunch of RFs, and there is NO NEXUS between jobs and Perdue letter. I believe her.

We discussed Perdue letter and I thought it should have come 2 years ago, not now. Too little, too late, almost laughable in effort to “make a difference”. She said Sonny has his way of doing things – he is guilty of ignoring or not understanding role that RFs play in delivering the goods, and is playing catch up. Timing is woeful.

I leave the issue believing the optics are awful, but innocuous with explanation.

Thanks again to Jim and to the Chief. Maybe we could hold off on assuming the worst before we run our own traplines.. say until November???

7 thoughts on “Regional Forester Advertisements: What the Forest Service Chief Has to Say”

  1. In a previous comment on the original post, I already thanked Jim for getting a first-hand account from the Chief and I said “I hope you are correct that the optics are awful, but innocuous with explanation.”

    However, with all due respect to Jim, and with no disrespect intended towards Chief Christiansen, I personally do not believe that whatever Chief Christiansen said to Jim ends the discussion on this matter.

    It is not news that there are legions of people in the U.S. Forest Service, and around the country, who are appalled, disgusted, horrified and scared by the actions of the Trump administration, in general, and also specifically as it relates to America’s bedrock environmental laws and public lands. It is by no means a stretch to think that people who’s careers, livelihoods, families and sanity depend on getting through the next few months may do or say things to just get by and hope (pray) for a change in administration and direction.

    • I tend to think that there are so many rules, laws and policies around that it would be relatively easy for a high Forest Service official to simply ‘follow the rules’, no matter how ‘inconvenient’ it is to the President’s wishes.

    • Matthew, technically a President can’t do much to “bedrock environmental laws” because they are …laws… An administration can change regulations to meet their own desires, but whether they fit within the framework of the laws are decided by the courts. A new administration and DOJ may not be overly enthusiastic about defending them, plus most of these court cases seem to go “admin didn’t analyze something or not the way judge would have chosen” so throw out regulation.

      Why this doesn’t seem to work for more restrictive regulations, I don’t know. Maybe there is just less legal impetus ($, passion?) on the side of those trying to get rid of overly restrictive regulations.

      • I think the wholesale dismantling (successful or not) of protective regulations by the Trump Administration answers your last question.

        Also, your disdain for the judicial system is mystifying. Just about any time a court reviews an agency action it will cite the precedents that prevent it from opining on “the way the judge would have chosen.” They can only ask whether what the agency chose to do is so unsupported by reasoning that it is an abuse of their discretion.

        • Not to be pedantic, but if dismantling is not successful then is it really dismantling?

          I don’t disdain the judicial system, I just think that there is a normal curve of capabilities and egos, just like the FS, or a university or any other institution. Just as people feel free to critique the FS, I feel free to critique the products of judges, academics and the media.

          And yes, some judges go a bit off from time to time (otherwise we wouldn’t need appeals courts, would we?). If you have the money and inclination (and if you’re the FS, if DOJ and the admin prioritize it) you might get to appeal. Once our OGC folks told me “the judge got the law wrong, but we can’t point it out because it will tick him off and he’s a young judge and that would risk getting bad rulings for a long time.” To me it’s just another human institution, full of people who mostly do their best and who sometimes fall short.

          • Your comment was phrased in terms of “trying” to dismantle, so I tried to respond the same way. (Regardless, I look forward to seeing the remantling begin.)

  2. And back to The Letter (per E&E) …

    “The vision Perdue laid out in June has run into the realities of tough international market conditions for wood products, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. The Forest Service is on track to miss its timber targets as a result, according to industry and agency sources.”

    Not the result of anything the RFs could do much about. But no surprise if “radical environmentalists” will be the excuse, and failure to marginalize them the real reason for personnel changes.


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