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 fourth 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, the second focused on balancing economic and environmental issues, and the third question dealt with forest fires and wood supply. Check back with Panel Talk to see additional questions.
Timber Products: How would you assess the health of our national forests? What needs to be done to make it better?
Rey: In some regions, the health of our federal forests is just fine. In fire-dominated ecosystems, however, it is not good. As a consequence of both fire suppression and reduced timber harvests, fuel loads are providing the fuel for fires that are ecologically and economically catastrophic. There are about 80 million federal acres where fuel reduction work is critical. This work cannot be funded exclusively through federally appropriated dollars. Federal forest managers are now finding, and will continue to have to find, ways of making this effort pay part of its way out of the woods.
Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.