Currently affiliated with The Livingston Group, Mark E. Rey served for eight years as the nation’s Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

As Under Secretary, Rey oversaw the programs for the U.S. Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service. Serving on Capitol Hill for the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, he was responsible for drafting legislation and organizing more than 100 legislative and oversight hearings.

Timber Products Company recently caught up with Rey to talk about the state of the nation’s forests. Here is the second of five questions we asked him regarding the U.S. forests. The first question focused on the biggest issues facing manages of our federal forest resources. Check back with Panel Talk to see additional questions. 

Timber Products: How can we do a better job of balancing economic and environmental considerations?

Rey: In this case, the answer is not for Congress to enact new and better laws. The statutes that exist already provide mechanisms for balancing these interests. What would produce a better result would be a concerted effort by agency decision makers to seek out and involve representatives of both interests as early as possible in the decision making process with a clear understanding that they will have to accommodate each other before any kind of final decision is reached. Local collaborative efforts have demonstrated that competing interests can be depended upon to do the right thing by one another—after they have tried everything else. A skilled decision maker, appreciative of this reality, can make the balance happen faster and better by forcing early engagement.

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