On Wednesday, it was my great pleasure to join Secretary Perdue in a ceremony at our national headquarters, where he administered the oath of office to Jim Hubbard, our new Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, who will supervise the Forest Service at the department. Boisterous cheers and applause greeted them from employees lining the hall as they made their way to the Gifford Pinchot conference room in the Yates Building for the swearing-in ceremony. The enthusiastic greetings from a host of employees made clear how happy we are to welcome Jim back to USDA and the Forest Service.
Under Secretary Hubbard carries a wealth of experience in land management agencies, having served 35 years with the Colorado Forest Service, including as Colorado State Forester for 20 years. He then served as director of the Office of Wildland Fire Coordination for the U.S. Department of the Interior before becoming our Deputy Chief for State and Private Forestry in 2006, a position he held until retiring in 2016.
Secretary Perdue began by thanking all of you for your dedicated service—for sustaining our nation’s forests and grasslands, and for working across boundaries to support states and private landowners on behalf of the American people. He also reflected on his visit to the fires in California, noting how proud he was to see the work we are doing at all levels of the agency. I echo his thanks and share his pride. As I have noted before, our employees are this agency’s greatest asset.
We have a wide-ranging mission with lots of challenges and opportunities, and we have a dedicated group of public servants who want conservation in this country to succeed. Under Secretary Hubbard pledged to support all that we do.
We have been awaiting the confirmation of our new Under Secretary for a long time, and now that he has arrived, I very much look forward to working with him. Like Secretary Perdue, I believe that Under Secretary Hubbard’s decades of experience make him uniquely qualified for this role. His experience will make him an excellent voice on Capitol Hill and before the American people on behalf of the Forest Service and our employees.
In his brief remarks, Under Secretary Hubbard painted a clear picture of our priorities, including Secretary Perdue’s shared stewardship plan. He noted that the Forest Service has a long history of sharing decision space, but he wants to “take it up a notch.” We can do that by working with states, communities, and others across shared landscapes to set priorities and achieve outcomes at a scale that truly makes a difference. Using all our tools and authorities for active management will be key to improving forest conditions on the National Forest System and the nation’s forests. Under Secretary Hubbard also emphasized the need to succeed in a work environment that shows respect to all.
We can deliver on the promise of shared stewardship. As our new Under Secretary said, “Let’s go to work.”
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