State foresters congratulate Homer Wilkes on new USDA post

The National Association of State Foresters applauds the confirmation of Homer Wilkes as USDA undersecretary overseeing the Forest Service.

WASHINGTON—The nation’s 59 state foresters welcome the Senate’s confirmation of Homer Wilkes to the key role of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment (NRE). In his new post, Undersecretary Wilkes will be charged with overseeing the USDA Forest Service, a foundational partner of the National Association of State Foresters.

Wilkes is a 41-year USDA veteran who most recently directed the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Team, which was established to facilitate the cleanup of the 2010 BP oil spill. He has also served as the NRCS chief financial officer, acting associate chief, and Mississippi state conservationist.

“We were thrilled to hear of Homer’s confirmation earlier this week,” said Christopher Martin, NASF president and Connecticut state forester. “Homer was a vital member of the Gulf restoration council that recently awarded grants to the Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi state forestry agencies for targeted implementation of improved forest management on private lands. Homer understands how crucial our work with family forest landowners is to achieving national conservation goals, and we look forward to continuing that work with Homer as NRE undersecretary.”

In his Senate Agriculture Committee confirmation hearing, Wilkes told lawmakers his first priority as undersecretary would be to address wildfire management. He also cited climate-smart forestry as an important component of addressing climate change, Good Neighbor Authority and other agreements with state forestry agencies as critical to managing federal forests, and active forest management as necessary to preventing catastrophic wildfire.

Media Contact: Whitney Forman-Cook at wforman-cook@stateforesters.org or 202-624-5417