Second Woman To Head U.S. Forest Service Has Deep Background In The West

Vicki Christiansen was sworn in this morning as Chief of the U.S. Forest Service. She’s only the second female to serve in this role in its 113-year history.

Christiansen had been serving as Interim Chief since March. She came on board after the former chief, Tony Tooke, stepped down amid sexual misconduct allegations.

Linda Nagel, a professor specializing in forestry at Colorado State University, said she’s relieved to see someone finally sworn into the office.

“It certainly creates a lot more stability for the agency and its partners.” she said. And the fact that Christiansen is a woman, said Nagel, means “she is poised and positioned to be really effective at working on issues of diversity and inclusion with the agency and with the profession as a whole.”

Nagel also said that Christensen’s extensive background in firefighting and management in Washington State and Arizona bodes well for the future of forestlands in the West.

“She has a really great appreciation for the entire western United States and some of the challenges that our forest conditions pose with respect to fire risk,” said Nagel.

She said one of Christensen’s biggest challenges will be managing a limited budget to deal with backlogs on things like road infrastructure on public lands.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.