U.S. Forest Service Chief Tony Tooke recently assembled agency leadership in Phoenix to focus on the key issues facing the agency, particularly the forest health crisis that threatens 80 million acres of Federal forests, communities, and neighboring landowners. New Associate Deputy Chief Chris French has led an extensive review of the agency’s internal regulations and its approach to NEPA compliance, which costs far too much and takes too long.
The agency’s leadership has concluded that it will be unable to make any significant progress to address the forest health crisis unless the agency becomes more efficient through increased use of existing streamlined authorities, the development of new administrative authorities, and more robust internal training efforts. Following the Phoenix meeting the Chief has established monthly reviews with each Regional Forester to track progress towards increasing outputs, both in volume produced and acres treated, under existing funding. The summary and materials from the Phoenix meeting are available here.