New Forest Service chief vows to be 'cheerleader' for ANF

Photo by Ted Lutz - A forum was held Friday morning at the headquarters of the Allegheny National Forest, ANF, in North Warren. Among those participating in the event are, left to right: Christopher Cook, acting supervisor of the ANF; U.S. Rep. Glenn "GT" Thompson, Republican Congressman from Centre County; and Vicki Christiansen, new chief of the U.S. Forest Service. Cook is a Mt. Jewett native and 1988 graduate of Kane Area High School.
Ted Lutz
Staff Writer

NORTH WARREN — The new chief of the U.S. Forest Service vowed Friday to support timber management plans for the Allegheny National Forest, ANF.
"I'm going to be your biggest cheerleader," Vicki Christiansen said at a forum at the ANF headquarters in North Warren. She said she would strive to "clear roadblocks" in plans for the state's only national forest.
Sworn-in just over two weeks ago as the 19th chief of the Forest Service, Christiansen said the visit to the ANF is her first to any national forest as head of the agency.
Christiansen had been serving as the interim chief at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service in Washington.
She previously served as the deputy chief for State and Private Forestry where she had oversight of Fire and Aviation Management, Tribal Relations, Forest Health Protection, Cooperative Forestry, Grey Towers and Conservation Education. 
"I am thankful for our partners and the work we have accomplished together on the Allegheny National Forest," Christiansen said. "I look forward to strengthening those relationships and building upon past success for the economic benefit or our rural communities and the sustainability of our national forest."
The new Forest Service chief said the agency "can't do business as usual" in managing national forests, including the ANF.
"We're going to take some risks," she said. "We've got to fire on all cylinders."
She called for the public and timber industry to have "patience with us" with "an equal amount of pushing" to resolve issues facing the ANF.
In making changes, Christiansen implied that some actions may be unpopular.
"We're not perfect," she said.
Christiansen said a new federal program calls for separating funds for fighting forest fires from the budgets for the ANF and other national forests.
She said tapping the ANF budget for money to fight large forest fires in the western states has been "very disruptive." She said "significant" funds have been taken from ANF budgets in the past to pay for fighting forest fires.
For full article, check the Oct. 27, 2018 printed or e-edition of The Kane Republican.