Category Archives: Leadership Corner

Regional Forester: Forest Service looking to listen and work towards resolution in Blues’ meetings

By Glenn Casamassa, Pacific Northwest Regional Forester  –

Next week, I will be participating with a team of folks from the Forest Service headquarters in Washington, D.C., in Objections Resolution meetings for the Revised Forest Plans for the Malheur, Umatilla, and Wallowa-Whitman National Forests. We will also be joined by other representatives from the Regional Office in Portland, Ore., and the involved National Forests.

Throughout this process, we received about 350 objection letters and have invited objectors from across the communities of Eastern Oregon to join us to discuss them.

I have worked closely with the Reviewing Officer, Chris French, for years and I know he and the team are as deeply committed to understanding your concerns as we are in the region.

We are coming to listen and hopefully begin the process of resolving your concerns and refining a shared vision for the future of these forests we all value.

It is important to all of us that we get to just sit down and talk with objectors and interested persons face-to-face.

The team has reviewed the objections and now, with this first round of meetings, we will all have an opportunity to work toward resolution—not in a room back in D.C., but rather there in the communities with you as citizens and stakeholders directly.

We hope to engage in meaningful dialogue and really listen to the issues of concern and to understand the underlying values that are important to each of you, your neighbors and the communities at large.

We’re committed to openness and are looking forward to the dialogue and opportunities for resolution that may surface.

I have had the opportunity to meet with several of your elected officials and our Forest Service partners thus far, and I have been moved by their commitment to the land and all of you.

Your communities are proud and resilient.

We want you to know that the team and I will be engaging directly with those who submitted objections during this process and we are ready to listen.

I hope to meet many of you next week.

Kind regards,

Glenn Casamassa
Regional Forester;
USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region


Source Information: Glenn Casamassa is the Regional Forest for the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region, supervising operations and staff on all national forests and grassland in Oregon and Washington State. For more information about the Blue Mountains Forest Plan planning process and scheduled objections resolution meetings, visit: https://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/r6/landmanagement/planning/?cid=fseprd584707&width=full

 

Forest Service interim chief announces new Pacific Northwest Regional Forester

USDA Forest Service logo

WASHINGTON D.C. — Aug. 17, 2018 — USDA Forest Service Interim Chief Vicki Christiansen announced today the appointment of Glenn Casamassa as the regional forester for the Pacific Northwest Region, effective September 17.

As regional forester, Casamassa will oversee management of 16 National Forests, two National Scenic Areas, a National Grassland, and two National Volcanic Monuments within the states of Oregon and Washington.

“As a Forest Service veteran for more than 30 years, Glenn brings with him tremendous land management and conservation leadership experiences from a ranger district to the Washington Office,” said Christiansen. “He, among other achievements, has played a leading role in the ongoing national regulatory reform efforts.”

Casamassa launched his public service career as a forestry technician, working as a firefighter on the Tonto National Forest in Arizona. He subsequently served in several temporary positions before landing his permanent job on the Tongass National Forest in Thorne Bay, Alaska.

He later served as a forester on the Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Utah and as Regional Environmental Coordinator for the Intermountain Region. Casamassa has been a district ranger on the Moab and Monticello Ranger Districts of the Manti-La Sal National Forest in Utah; a legislative affairs specialist in the Washington Office headquarters; and a Forest Supervisor for the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland in Colorado.

Casamassa earned his bachelor’s degree in forest ecology at Utah State University and completed post-graduate work in logging system engineering at the Oregon State University College of Forestry in Corvallis, Oregon.

He is eager to get started in his new role.

“I am deeply committed to working with the employees, partners, Tribes and diverse stakeholders in the Pacific Northwest towards the shared stewardship of our nation’s forests and grasslands,” Casamassa said. “Being good neighbors and setting a standard of excellence for public and customer service are priorities for the region in working alongside the people who care for, value, and depend upon these lands.”

Casamassa will assume the role from Dianne Guidry, who has served as Acting Regional Forester since Jim Peña retired in July. Guidry provided critical leadership in supporting and directing the Region through this significant fire season while continuing to further the Region’s ongoing program of work. She will continue in her role as Deputy Regional Forester upon Casamassa’s arrival in September.

The mission of the USDA Forest Service is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages the 193 million acres of National Forest System land, provides stewardship assistance to non-federal forest landowners, and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world.

For more information about the U.S. Forest Service visit http://www.fs.fed.us/.

Glenn Cassamassa, in Forest Service uniform, stands at a lecturn outdoors, before a forested ridge and an American flag.

U.S. Forest Service Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland Supervisor Glenn Casamassa speaks at Horsetooth Reservoir in Fort Collins, CO, July 19, 2013. On Aug. 17, 2018, the interim Forest Service Chief, Vicki Christensen, named Casamassa the Pacific Northwest Region’s next regional forester. USDA photo by Dave Steinke.


Source information: USDA Forest Service

Secretary Purdue thanks Congress for fire funding fix

Wildland fireghter trains water from a hose on blazing tree stump as sparks fly
Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue in an undated USDA photo

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Purdue. USDA photo.

WASHINGTON D.C — March 23, 2018 —  U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue expressed his appreciation for the work of Congress in approving a bipartisan fix for the way the USDA Forest Service is funded for fighting wildfires today.

Secretary Perdue had advocated for the change since taking office in April 2017.

Congress included the solution in the FY 2018 Omnibus Spending Package, which has been signed into law by President Donald J. Trump.

“Improving the way we fund wildfire suppression will help us better manage our forests. If we ensure that we have adequate resources for forest management, we can mitigate the frequency of wildfires and severity of future fire seasons,” Perdue said

DZD9m6qWsAAFSsjInterim USDA Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen thanked Secretary Purdue for his efforts in meeting with Congress to support the bipartisan effort.

“This solution will allow us to focus on getting work done on the ground more consistently to improve overall forest health and keep wildfires from threatening lives, homes, and communities,” she said.

Press release: https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2018/03/23/secretary-perdue-applauds-fire-funding-fix-omnibus?utm_source=&utm_medium=&utm_campaign=

R6 Forester: Soaring fire costs limit funds for other work

Leadership Corner: Jim Peña; Regional Forester, USDA Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Region

By Jim Peña, Pacific Northwest Regional Forester  – 

Firefighters burn grass and brush along a dirt road to block oncoming fire

Firefighters conduct burnout operations to establish a fire line while fighting the 2017 Chetco Bar fire on Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest in Oregon. USDA Forest Service photo (via InciWeb)

The 2017 wildfire season was unprecedented in terms of dollars spent, acres burned, and the increased duration of wildfires. Even now, months later, we’re still feeling the impacts from these fires, especially financially.

As wildfires grow more severe – and costly – the USDA Forest Service is struggling to adequately fund projects that are important to our communities because of soaring firefighting costs.

Each year, firefighting costs consume more and more of the USDA Forest Service’s budget. In 1995, firefighting costs accounted for 15% of the USDA Forest Service budget. In 2017, it was 57%. At the rate things are going, firefighting will consume 67% of our budget by 2021. This means less money for other priority USDA Forest Service programs and services, including recreation, visitor services, and much-needed fire prevention work that reduces the risk of catastrophic wildfires in the first place.

The USDA Forest Service is the only federal agency that is required to fund its entire emergency management program through its regular appropriations. This includes wildfires that are truly natural disasters—lightning starts rapidly driven by wind that burn faster and more intensely than firefighters can control.

Two chinook helicopters fly over a field with water buckets dangling below each aircraft.

Chinook Helicopters from the Oregon Army National Guard use hanging buckets to collect water for aerial drops in support of fire fighting efforts on the Chetco Bar Fire in Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest September 13, 2017. U.S. Government Photo (via Inciweb)

In the Pacific Northwest, this funding model means that projects designed to actually decrease the severity of wildfire are being delayed, deferred maintenance is growing for recreation sites and critical infrastructure, and roads damaged from fire or storms are going un-repaired.

This means that trash goes un-emptied, toilets uncleaned, and we are forced to make hard decisions on whether we can safely keep roads and recreation sites open. These funding challenges directly impact our ability to provide excellent and safe visitor experiences.

The USDA Forest Service is dedicated to fostering the productive and sustainable use of your national forests and grasslands. If you can’t use and enjoy your public lands to the fullest, that’s a problem.

While the USDA Forest Service is working more closely with partners and volunteers to leverage resources and accomplish more than we could by ourselves, our current fiscal path is simply unsustainable.

The USDA Forest Service deeply appreciates the ongoing work of Congress to pass new legislation to reform the way wildfire suppression is funded. A commonsense approach would let us get back to the work we care about most – meeting the many different needs of the communities we serve, for the benefit of generations to come.


Source Information: Jim Peña is the Regional Forest for the USDA Forest Service – Pacific Northwest Region. He supervises operations and staff on all national forests and grassland in Washington State and Oregon.