Clinton Forest Chief Joins National Wildlife Federation

RESTON, Virginia, May 29, 2001 (ENS) - Former U.S. Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck has become the second Clinton administration agency head to join America's largest conservation group, the National Wildlife Federation. Dombeck will fill the role of a senior fellow, an advisory position covering both domestic and international issues.

Former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Jamie Rappaport Clark assumed the role of National Wildlife Federation senior vice president for conservation earlier this month.

Dombeck

Mike Dombeck (Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service)
Dombeck won the respect of environmentalists, and a National Wildlife Federation (NWF) National Conservation Achievement Award, for his more than four years at the head of the Forest Service. He implemented new environmental stewardship policies at the agency, changing its primary yardstick of success from commodity outputs to ecosystem and watershed health.

"We cannot meet the needs of people without first securing the health of the land," said Dombeck, who holds a Ph.D. in fisheries biology, with graduate degrees in biology, education and zoology. "The Federation's commitment to finding solutions that work for people and nature is one I've shared all my life, and it's one I'll continue to work toward," he said.

Dombeck guided development of the Roadless Area Conservation Policy during the Clinton administration, the policy of forbidding development in 58.5 million acres of America's national forests. Under President George W. Bush, this policy could be reversed by a current plan to reassess roadless rules forest by forest.

Ten days before the end of the Clinton administration, Dombeck challenged the incoming Bush administration to protect the nation's remaining old growth forests. Speaking at a landscape legacies conference at Duke University, Dombeck said that the time has come for the Forest Service to take the "long view" and enact policies that prohibit the harvesting of old growth trees, a position long urged by environmental and conservation groups. Old growth forests, by definition, are stands of trees that are approximately 200 years old or older.

Declaring that "reverence for ancient trees is ingrained in our culture," Dombeck outlined a series of new Forest Service directives designed to protect the nation's remaining old growth forests. Under the directives, each of the 155 national forests managed by the U.S. Forest Service will be required to take steps to inventory, map, protect, sustain and enhance old growth ecosystems.

It remains to be seen whether the new Bush administration Forest Service chief Dale Bosworth will uphold these directives.

Van Putten

Mark Van Putten has been president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation since June 1996. (Photo courtesy NWF)
"Mike is a living, breathing conservation hero," said National Wildlife Federation president Mark Van Putten. "He will help us to keep America on a path toward real conservation progress."

"I'm hopeful that Mike and Jamie can help the National Wildlife Federation work with the Bush administration to build on the conservation progress achieved under its predecessor," said Van Putten. "Conservation is not a partisan issue. The shift to a new administration needn't mean a shift away from safeguarding the real treasures of our nation and the world."