Randy Moore Becomes First Black Chief of US Forest Service in its 116-Year History

by Duke Magazine

United States Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has appointed Randy Moore as the new chief of the US Forest Service, making him the first Black man to lead the agency in its 116-year history.

Moore, who has served as a regional forester in the Pacific Southwest Region of California since 2007, will take over the agency in preparation for the 2021 wildfire season, which could be reportedly longer and more intense due to a record of high temperatures and a severe drought. In 2020, California experienced 9,917 fires, which burned 4.3 million acres. But this year, weather experts are expecting both the number of fires and the acreage burned to break records.

In a statement, Vilsack praised Moore, calling him a valued asset in the fight against climate change.

“Moore has been a conservation leader on the forefront of climate change, most notably leading the Region’s response to the dramatic increase in catastrophic wildfires in California over the last decade,” Vilsack said in a statement. “His proven track record of supporting and developing employees and putting communities at the center of the Forest Service’s work positions him well to lead the agency into the future at this critical time in our country.”

However, Vilsack is of the hope that Moore’s appointment will bring stability to a position that has dealt with changes over the past few years. In 2018, Vicki Christiansen took over the position after then Chief Tony Tooke resigned after the agency began looking into misconduct allegations. Christiansen announced her retirement and will leave the position later this month but “will continue to collaborate on an intentional leadership transition between now and then as the Forest Service gears up for a tough summer of predicted elevated fire activity across the Western United States.”

Moore has held the position of regional forester in Southwestern California, located in Milwaukee. In his new position, Moore will oversee the 30,000 employees and 18 national forests in California and Hawaii.

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