U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue administered the oath of office to Tony Tooke, who became the 18th Chief of the U.S. Forest Service, in a ceremony at White Mountain National Forest Friday. Tooke has worked for the Forest Service since age 18 - with 37 total years of service - and until today was the Regional Forester for the Southern Region.
"Tony Tooke is truly a home-grown Chief, having worked his entire adult life for the Forest Service, and he comes on board at a time of great opportunity to reform our approach to forest management," Perdue said. "He will oversee efforts to get our forests working again, to make them more productive, and to create more jobs. Additionally, wildfires have been aggressive this season, and it is frustrating to see that a greater and greater percentage - now 55 percent - of our Forest Service budget is spent on fire suppression. This diminishes our efforts to mitigate disasters in advance. I am committed to finding a permanent solution to this budget imbalance, and Tony's leadership will be key to accomplishing that goal."
"I am deeply humbled to have been asked to serve as Chief of the U. S. Forest Service," said Chief Tooke. "I have tremendous respect for our history and those who have served before me - their leadership has inspired my own. I admire our on-the-ground work and our dedicated workforce, at every level of the agency, that make it possible. Together with our many partners, volunteers, and local and state leaders, we have much to accomplish to fulfill our continuing conservation mission and serve people and communities everywhere."