A rugged, whitewater river flowing northward through deep canyons, the New River is among the oldest rivers on the continent. New River Gorge National River in West Virginia encompasses over 70,000 acres of land along the New River, is rich in cultural and natural history, and offers an abundance of scenic and recreational opportunities.
Big Southern Butte is one of two domes rising from a sea of basalt near the center of the eastern Snake River Plain in Idaho. The butte is one of the largest volcanic domes in the world, but at 300,000 years old it is also one of the youngest. Hikers who trek to the 7,550-foot high summit are rewarded with spectacular panoramic views. Photo by Devin Englestead, BLM Upper Snake Wildlife Biologist.
First light at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. Established in November 22, 1939, the refuge has provided a critical stopover and wintering spot for thousands of sandhill cranes, geese and other waterfowl for 75 years. Bosque del Apache's sandhill crane population has multiplied from 18 birds in the 1840s to more than 20,000 birds today. Photo by Kim Hang Dessoliers (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Nominated for the position of Assistant Secretary for
Fish, Wildlife and Parks
Department of the Interior
Before the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Mr. Chairman, Senator Domenici, Members of the Committee, I am truly honored to join you today as I seek your confirmation to become the Assistant Secretary of Interior for Fish, Wildlife and Parks. As a career resource manager and public servant, the opportunity to be entrusted with the care and stewardship of the icons of America's heritage, is the ultimate experience. I want to thank both President Bush and Secretary Kempthorne for their confidence in me shown through my nomination.
My personal connection with America's great outdoors begins in Montana nearly 60 years ago. Born and raised in California, I have vivid memories of our family journeys to Montana to visit my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins in Missoula. I remember to this day catching my first trout. I remember waking up in Yellowstone as my grandmother chased bears out of our campsite, beating a big metal pot. I remember helping my dad set up our tent in the floor of Yosemite. I remember the ranger hikes. I remember watching the "firefall" during the evening interpretative programs. Little did I realize that these personal connections created a lasting imprint on my being, my inner soul.
I began my professional journey over 4 decades ago in Orleans, California, a small rural mountain community. It was to this remote ranger station on the Klamath River, that I brought my bride, who has shared a wonderful journey with me for these past four decades. Our two children experienced life on a ranger station as we moved throughout this great country. I have worked across the country as a 35 year career employee with the US Forest Service, and most recently as the Director of Colorado State Parks.
Throughout my career, I have been a practitioner of science, policy and resource capacity in a multitude of project and program decision responsibilities. My leadership assignments over these past four decades have provided me with the foundation of practical field operations and a rich understanding of the structural importance of sound public resource policy.
I was asked to lead a team to respond to the 1999 GAO Report identifying the need for an integrated strategy to address the hazardous fuel conditions on National Forest lands. The strategy became the foundation for the National Fire Plan, funded by the Congress after the catastrophic fire season in 2000. I was subsequently asked to lead the agency's implementation of the National Fire Plan and did so through 2001.
Late in 2001, I accepted the position of Director of Colorado State Parks. The Colorado State Park system is different than most state park systems in America. More than 85 percent of the division's operating budget comes from revenue other than general fund.
In 2002, we commissioned a market assessment of Colorado State Parks. We contracted with PriceWaterhouseCoopers to conduct this assessment. Through this assessment we were able to develop a better definition of who used Colorado State Parks, how they felt about the services, and perhaps most importantly, how they felt about fees.
Additionally, we were able to determine who didn't use our parks and why. Based on this foundation we developed a strategic plan for the division, a plan build on community conversations in every corner of Colorado. From the ideas C0loradans shared with us, we developed an investment strategy, an investment strategy built on principles and business plans that would lead us to financially sound park operations.
Given my broad and extensive resource background, I bring a set of qualifications, experiences and insights that will add value to an excellent team of professional resource managers. Over the course of my career I have worked with individuals, volunteers, organizations, state agencies and numerous federal agencies. The relationships I have developed over these years have resulted in the support of my nomination by a wide variety of organizations across the country.
I have a Bachelor of Science in Forest Management from Humboldt State University in Arcata, California, and a Master in Public Administration from George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.
My career has afforded me the opportunity to work in a variety of communities across this great nation, in the Douglas fir forests of northern California, the Cascades of Oregon and Washington, the Southern portion of California's Costal Range, and the great Rocky Mountains in the Intermountain west. I have found throughout these experiences people care deeply about America's resources. I have worked on the ground with a variety of resource projects and served in senior policy positions as well. I was intimately involved in the implematation of the National Fire Plan and enjoyed the opportunity to work with many of you in that endeavor.
I have participated in a number of projects working towards the recovery of endangered species. As Regional Forester, I was actively engaged in working with the U S Fish and Wildlife Service on the recovery of the lynx in Colorado. Ten years ago I served on the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee, coordinating agency activities to support the recovery of the grizzly. As Forest Supervisor of the Mendocino National Forest, I worked closely with the US Fish and Wildlife staff and the California Division of Fish and Game in managing the complex southern portion of the spotted owl habitat. As the Director of State Parks, with the Fish and Wildlife staff and Colorado Division of Wildlife staff, we designed an implemented successful wild land fire mitigation project in lynx habitat in the Front Range Colorado.
In my capacity as Director of Recreation, Heritage, and Wilderness Resource, both in the Pacific Northwest Regional Office as well as the National Headquarters of the Forest Service, I experienced the challenges of managing natural resource setting for quality visitor experiences.
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, I am aware of the challenges and unique opportunities associated with position. I am committed to work closely with you to provide the oversight and stewardship of the resources entrusted to me in this position.
Thank you Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee for considering my qualifications supporting my nomination. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.