Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today appointed eight members to the Forest Resource Coordinating Committee, which provides advice on private forestry and USDA's programs that assist landowners in managing their forests.
"The experts selected for this committee are some of the best minds in forestry today," said Agriculture Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment Harris Sherman. "They will help us make the right decisions for our rural communities that will create jobs, sustain economic growth and conserve our working lands for future generations."
The appointed members are:
- Linda Casey, Prattville, Ala., representing state foresters from the Southern U.S.
- Mary Jane Packer, Trumansburg, N.Y., representing private forest landowners
- Rob Olszewski, Marietta, Ga., representing private forest landowners
- Michele Curtis, Perry, Fla., representing forest industry
- Amadou Diop, Mableton, Ga., representing conservation organizations
- Tom DeGomez, Flagstaff, Ariz., representing a land grant college or university
- Clifford Rushton, Olympia, Wash., representing a conservation district
- James Houser, Jacksonville, Texas, representing consulting foresters
The new committee members will be joined by the heads of four USDA agencies – the Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Farm Service Agency and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
USDA is also soliciting nominations through March 2 for an additional eight committee members to serve staggered terms from 1-3 years. These positions will represent the forestry, natural resources and conservation sectors and will be filled as follows:
- Two state foresters or equivalent state officials from geographically diverse regions of the U.S.
- A representative of a state fish and wildlife agency
- An owner of nonindustrial private forest land
- Two conservation organization representatives
- A representative from an Indian tribe
- A representative from a state technical committee
USDA has a special interest in assuring that women, minority groups and persons with disabilities are adequately represented on this advisory committee. The Forest Resource Coordinating Committee provides expert counsel on actions and funds allocation that enhance the diversity and public benefits of forests. Important areas of focus include wildfires, natural disasters, disease outbreak, air and water quality, soil conservation, carbon storage and wildlife habitat.
The first meeting of the committee is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 20, at the offices of the USDA Forest Service in Washington, D.C.