Above: Vicki Christiansen testifies before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee August 3, 2017.
(Originally published at 10:25 a.m. MST March 9, 2018)
Amid reports of widespread sexual harassment and misconduct within the Forest Service, and especially among firefighters, a woman will now lead the agency. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has selected Victoria (Vicki) Christiansen to be the interim Chief of the Forest Service. She replaces Tony Tooke who suddenly resigned March 7 after allegations of sexual misconduct were aired on the PBS program NewsHour.
Below is an excerpt from a message Mr. Perdue sent to employees Thursday afternoon:
With seven years at the Forest Service and 30 with the states of Arizona and Washington, Vicki knows what is needed to restore our forests and put them back to work for the taxpayers. As a former wildland firefighter and fire manager, she knows first-hand that failure to properly maintain forests leads to longer and more severe fire seasons. And as a former State Forester, she knows the benefits of Good Neighbor Authority and how best to partner with our state and local colleagues. Vicki’s professional experience will complement these efforts and help us achieve those objectives.
As we promote and maintain healthy, productive forests and preserve our natural resources, we will work to ensure a place where people can work with respect and dignity.
Ms. Christiansen has experience in wildland fire suppression. After obtaining a degree in forestry at the University of Washington in 1983 she accrued firefighting experience with the Washington Department of Natural Resources. There is one report that she was qualified to use fireline explosives. Thirteen years after graduating she was the Washington State Forester. Between 2006 and 2012 she served in five different positions with the Washington DNR, Arizona Division of Forestry, and the U.S. Forest Service. Her last job before becoming interim USFS Chief was Deputy Chief, State and Private Forestry with the USFS.
In a Senate committee hearing August 3, 2017 Ms. Christiansen talked about budget issues and logging. She was also asked about water scooping air tankers by Senator Maria Cantwell. Here is the official transcript at 52:50, which was compiled from uncorrected Closed Captioning.
MISS CHRISTIANSEN, WHAT DO YOU MAKE ABOUT THE WATER USING THE SCOOPING TECHNOLOGY? WHY ARE WE CONCLUDING THAT IS NOT A GOOD IDEA?
>> THANK YOU, SENATOR CANTWELL. WATER SCOOPERS ARE CERTAINLY A TOOL IN OUR AVIATION STRATEGY. WE HAVE NOT CONCLUDED THEY ARE INEFFECTIVE. BUT AS YOU KNOW, IN OUR PROPOSED FY18 BUDGET WE HAD TO MAKE SOME CRITICAL CHOICES. TO BE STEWARDS OF THE TAXPAYER DOLLARS. TO THAT MAKING, WE ARE NOT PLANNING TO HOLD AN EXCLUSIVE USE CONTRACT BUT CAN ACCESS THESE THROUGH CALL [WHEN] NEEDED MECHANISMS. WE HAVE TWO UNDER EXCLUSIVE USE CONTRACT.
We first wrote about Ms. Christiansen May 14, 2009: