USDA Forest Service (USFS) Chief Tony Tooke stepped down on Wednesday, just seven months after being appointed to the position. Chief Tooke’s resignation occurred just days after the USFS began an official investigation into sexual misconduct allegations, and in the wake of reports of widespread, historical sexual harassment throughout the agency.
A team of RCRC Board Members, including RCRC Chair Rex Bohn (Humboldt), RCRC First Vice Chair Randy Hanvelt (Tuolumne), RCRC Immediate Past Chair Bob Williams (Tehama), Supervisor Kevin Cann (Mariposa) and Supervisor Lee Adams (Sierra) met with Chief Tooke at USFS offices in Washington, DC on Monday as part of RCRC’s advocacy efforts during the National Association of Counties Legislative Conference. RCRC’s advocacy team posed important questions to the Chief regarding such vital topics as increasing use of Good Neighbor Authority in California, increasing pace and scale of management and restoration on national forest lands, engaging CAL FIRE’s firefighting forces earlier on federal lands during high severity wildfires to stop their spread, and fixing the USFS budget to allow fire suppression to be funded from disaster funds. With Tooke’s resignation, it is unclear when a new Chief will be appointed and how such important issues will be addressed in the short-term.