The top Democrats overseeing the Forest Service asked the inspector general on Monday to investigate whether USDA grant money to Alaska was used by the timber industry to argue for more logging in the Tongass National Forest. The Forest Service is weighing a state request for a full exemption from a 2001 rule that bars road construction and logging in undeveloped forests.
The Forest Service said on Tuesday it will tighten its procedures after an inspector general’s report found its sexual harassment policies lacking. The report identified three instances in which supervisors did not explain adequately why they gave more lenient punishment than was agency policy …
Congressional leaders are taking a direct hand in the final farm bill fight—the Trump administration's demands for a freer hand in fire prevention in national forests—with a decision possible as early as today that would allow a lame-duck vote on the $87 billion-a-year legislation. Negotiators have resolved the headline issue, a proposal by House Republicans for stricter SNAP work requirements, but are keeping it under wraps until the compromise bill is complete.
James Hubbard, who retired as deputy chief of the Forest Service in 2017, is President Trump's choice to become agriculture undersecretary for natural resources, announced the White House. His primary job will be oversight of the Forest Service, with its 154 national forests and 20 grasslands on 193 million acres in 43 states and Puerto Rico.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue plans to visit three New England states today and Friday "to gather input for the 2018 farm bill and increasing rural prosperity," announced USDA. The "back to our roots" tour follows a swing through five Midwestern states at the start of August.
The regional forester for the southern United States, Tony Tooke, is the new chief of the Forest Service, the USDA agency in charge of 154 national forests and 20 grasslands covering a combined 193 million acres (301,600 square miles) across the nation. Tooke is a lifelong employee of the Forest Service, joining at age 18, and was associate deputy chief of the agency before taking the job as regional forester.
The Forest Service is wading through public comments on its proposal to continue to allow ranchers to graze up to 5,600 sheep in the largest wilderness area in Colorado, which is three-quarters of the size of Rhode Island, says The Associated Press. Despite hopes that a decision on the year-old proposal would be announced this winter, it could be months before that happens, according to a Forest Service spokeswoman.
More than a quarter of the land in the United States, mostly in the West and Alaska, is owned by the federal government, a massive stewardship challenge and a frequent cause of friction with local governments. President-elect Donald Trump apparently has settled on Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a proponent of oil and gas development, to run the Interior Department, which oversees 416 million acres. But transition officials are silent on his choice for the Agriculture Department, which controls nearly 193 million acres of forest and grassland.
The U.S. Forest Service released a new report on Monday, detailing the effects of drought on forests and rangelands.