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Leadership Corner

Creating a modern approach to forest products delivery

Portrait phot: Chris French
Chris French, deputy chief of the National Forest System Deputy Area

My guess is that most us look at our work and think of how to improve or change the way we do it. It’s important to evaluate why and how we do things. It’s important to support innovation and invest in strategies that help us do our work more effectively. It’s important to try new things that might fail but lead to better understanding. It’s how we got the Pulaski, GPS, PayCheck 8, white trucks, Good Neighbor Agreements, Stewardship Contracting and our emerging work in conservation finance.

I believe our best ideas come from our learning and questioning the status quo - especially when conditions have changed. And as we know, we have great challenges right now because our conditions have changed: We have an imperative to change our workplace, we don’t have enough capacity to do everything that we want to do, we have aging infrastructure, backlogs of expired permits, needed monitoring, staffing challenges, actings and leadership transitions, and, finally (although this list is not meant to be exhaustive),  enormous forest health, watershed, fire risk and restoration challenges that drive our agency priorities.  

Meeting this last challenge is tough. Right now, of the 80 million National Forest and Grassland acres that are in need of restoration, at least 51 million acres are at high risk due to insects, disease, wildfire, and stress from climate change. Looking at the broader landscape of America’s forests, of which we are a part, forest health issues cross boundaries which compounds social, ecologic and economic risks to our forest dependent communities and tribes. Innovative approaches are key to help us address this challenge. Suppression of wildfire and addressing our at-risk forests consume enormous agency resources and capacity. Any changes to help us address this challenge more effectively or efficiently directly benefits our ability to…Read More

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