Idaho

Blm Chief To Lead Forest Service Mike Dombeck Will Succeed Departed Jack Ward Thomas

Mike Dombeck, the acting head of the Bureau of Land Management who grew up near a national forest in Wisconsin and studied fisheries biology, was named Friday as the next chief of the Forest Service.

“For someone that grew up 25 miles from a town of 1,500, working as a fishing guide and hunting and roaming through the woods in the Chequamegon National Forest in northern Wisconsin’s beautiful lake country, this is a tremendous honor,” Dombeck told reporters.

Dombeck, 48, who was born in Stevens Point, Wis., and grew up in Hayward, Wis., will become the 14th chief of the 91-year-old Forest Service effective Jan. 6, Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman said.

He succeeds Jack Ward Thomas, who resigned last month.

“Mike is the right leader to continue the Forest Service’s rich tradition of conservation leadership, manage the public resource and lead the agency into the next century,” Glickman said during a news conference at USDA headquarters.

His appointment was welcomed by environmental groups who like his experience in fisheries work. The impact of logging and livestock grazing on fish populations is a growing environmental concern, especially in the West.

“We are confident Mike’s skills and experience with fisheries and ecosystems will provide a new direction for the Forest Service and better management of the nation’s rivers,” said Tom Cassidy of American Rivers, a river conservation group.

Two key Republicans on Capitol Hill - Sens. Frank Murkowski of Alaska and Larry Craig of Idaho - raised concerns about the appointment but said they looked forward to working with Dombeck.

Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said he was disappointed that the new chief didn’t come from within the ranks of the Forest Service.

Craig, chairman of the panel’s forestry subcommittee, said Dombeck had gotten “crossways with Congress” when he lobbied in support of grazing fee reforms.

“Barring a repeat of that unfortunate episode, I believe I would be able to work in a positive way with Mr. Dombeck. … He’s got a good background in natural resource management,” Craig said.

Dombeck said his first priority as chief will be to “build on the rich tradition of working closely with local communities to restore and maintain productive, healthy and diverse ecological systems.

“As managers of the public trust, our job is to ensure that all who use the land - be they anglers, timber companies or hikers - support the land’s conservation and restoration,” he said.

Dombeck attended the University of Wisconsin and the University of Minnesota before earning a Ph.D. in fisheries biology at Iowa State University. A Forest Service worker for 12 years, he left his job as the manager of the agency’s national fisheries program in 1989. He joined the BLM as a science adviser, working his way to the acting director’s job in February 1994.

MEMO: Cut in the Spokane edition

This sidebar appeared with the story: MICHAEL P. DOMBECK Job: Forest Service chief Born: Stevens Point, Wis., Sept. 21, 1948 Lives: Vienna, Va. Family: Married, one daughter Education: Ph.D., fisheries biology, Iowa State University; master’s in zoology, University of Minnesota; bachelor of science, biology, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Most recent position: acting director of Bureau of Land Management, 1994-present.

Cut in the Spokane edition

This sidebar appeared with the story: MICHAEL P. DOMBECK Job: Forest Service chief Born: Stevens Point, Wis., Sept. 21, 1948 Lives: Vienna, Va. Family: Married, one daughter Education: Ph.D., fisheries biology, Iowa State University; master’s in zoology, University of Minnesota; bachelor of science, biology, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Most recent position: acting director of Bureau of Land Management, 1994-present.



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