Idaho Republican Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth wants the head of the Forest Service including the newly appointed chief to go through Senate confirmation like other administration nominees.
In a bill introduced Tuesday, Chenoweth asked that the Forest Service head face a similar route to office as the directors of the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service.
Also, Chenoweth wants the nominee to have “substantial experience and demonstrated competence in forest land management and natural resources conservation.”
A Chenoweth spokeswoman said the bill was not a response to new Forest Service chief Mike Dombeck, whose appointment to the post last December was greeted warmly by pro-environment groups.
“This was one of the first things that she wanted to do,” as new chair of the House Subcommittee on Forestry and Forest Health, said Khris Bershers, Chenoweth spokeswoman. “Basically Helen wants to make sure the person in charge has a background to do the job.”
Dombeck told Congress Tuesday that logging, mining and grazing should be secondary to forest health.
“Clearly, we must deliver sustainable supplies of wood fiber for American homes, forage for livestock and minerals and energy that help support healthy economies,” Dombeck said in his first testimony in his new role as chief.
“But … the health of the land must be our first priority,” he said. “Failing this, nothing else we do really matters.”
Dombeck’s background studying the biology of fisheries suggests to some that he may draw the ire of timber companies in managing the public timberlands.
If Chenoweth’s bill were to become law, Dombeck would serve six months after its enactment before going through a formal confirmation process.
Initial hearings on Chenoweth’s bill, which garnered six co-sponsors, are set for March 11.
In his testimony for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Tuesday, Dombeck defended a series of environmental laws under assault in the Republican-led Congress, including the National Forest Management Act, National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act.
“These laws represent the conservation values of mainstream America,” Dombeck said.
, DataTimes The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = From staff and wire reports Staff writer Eric Torbenson contributed to this report.
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