U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth today announced Bernie Weingardt as regional forester of the agency’s Pacific Southwest Region after Jack Blackwell’s announcement to retire 40 years after starting work with the Forest Service.
“Bernie is extremely well qualified for this job,” said Bosworth. “He knows and understands the issues and opportunities in the Pacific Southwest Region.”
Eighteen national forests make up the region, which amounts to more than 20 million acres or about one-fifth of the state, covering the North Coast, Cascade and Sierra Nevada ranges and from Big Sur to the Mexican border in the South Coast range. As regional forester, Weingardt will have overall responsibility for the region, including an annual budget of $500 million and more than 5,000 permanent employees and 2,800 seasonal employees. In addition, he will also have state and private forestry program responsibilities for Hawaii and the Pacific Trust Territories.
“I’m both thankful and excited to be offered this opportunity as regional forester of the Pacific Southwest Region and have the opportunity to continue working with some of the most incredible natural resources and people in the country,” said Weingardt. “I feel that over the last four and a half years we have built and strengthened partnerships, improved our ability to protect communities and the stewardship of natural resources as well as providing world-class public service. I look forward to continuing those efforts as regional forester.”
Weingardt currently serves as deputy regional forester for natural resources in the region, based out of Vallejo, Calif. As deputy, he oversees staffs that guide planning and implementation of natural resource programs, including vegetation management, wildlife and fisheries management, geology, hydrology, air and water quality programs as well as rangeland management and land management planning.
Prior to his current assignment, Weingardt was forest supervisor of the Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Salt Lake City, Utah. He began his career working as a seasonal employee on the White River and Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forests in Colorado. After receiving a permanent appointment in 1974 and holding several natural resource positions of increasing responsibility, he became a district ranger on the San Juan National Forest and later on the White River National Forest, both in Colorado. He also had assignments as deputy forest supervisor on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest (Washington) and on the recreation staff here in the headquarters.
Weingardt graduated from Colorado State University with a bachelor’s in forest management science.
In acknowledging Blackwell’s retirement Bosworth said, “Jack’s significant accomplishments during his career are too numerous to list but one that we are proud he received is a Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Service.” The Presidential Rank Awards are given to an extremely small group of senior executive federal employees each year in recognition of their career long outstanding performance and achievement. Blackwell received the award in 2004. For this reason and many others the Forest Service will miss Jack Blackwell.
Blackwell will retire on June 3, 2005; Weingardt will assume his new duties then.