The Oregon Board of Forestry will meet virtually on Monday, July 12 to continue the search for Oregon’s next state forester.
The meeting will begin at 4 p.m. Monday, where members of the board will review materials relating to the job search — expected to take about three months once the details and criteria for the position have been hammered out — and take public comment on the process.
Written testimony can be submitted before or after the meeting to BoardofForestry@oregon.gov.
Those who need special accommodations for the meeting can call ODF’s Public Affairs Office at least 72 hours in advance of the meeting at 503-945-7200.
The hiring process for a new state forester began after then-State Forester Peter Daugherty submitted his resignation after facing pressure from the Board of Forestry and Oregon legislators following a critical outside report on the Department of Forestry’s finances and operations.
The Board of Forestry appointed Nancy Hirsch to be the acting state forester on May 27 until a permanent replacement could be found. Her first day on the job was June 1.
Hirsch, who retired from the Oregon Department of Forestry in 2019 as the agency’s deputy state forester, is no stranger to the role. This will be her second appointment to serve as acting state forester. She has served for 33 years in various roles with the agency prior to retiring.
The Oregon Department noted in 2018 that Hirsch was the first woman to serve as an ODF incident management team commander, a Protection Division chief, deputy state forester, and an acting state forester.
Hirsch was appointed last to the post of acting state forester in 2010 following the resignation of then-State Forester Marvin Brown, who resigned under pressure from the Board of Forestry.
The search process faced a large unknown following the introduction of Senate Bill 868 in this year’s legislative session, which would have stripped the board’s authority to appoint the state forester and given it to the state’s governor instead.
The bill never made it to a floor vote, and the session ended June 26, killing the bill.
The bill, introduced on Wednesday, May 19 by a bipartisan group of senators would have made the Board of Forestry’s role in the appointment of a state forester that of an advisory role, giving the authority to the governor — Oregon Governor Kate Brown, currently — and turning the state forester role into a four-year position, instead of an indefinite one.
Listed as chief sponsors of the bill were state senators Kathleen Taylor (D-Milwaukie), Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose), and Jeff Golden (D-Ashland). Joining as regular sponsors were Lynn Findley (R-Vale), Tim Knopp (R-Bend), and Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D-NW Portland/Beaverton).
The last state forester, Peter Daugherty was appointed to the position by the Oregon Board of Forestry on September 7, 2016. He had worked for ODF since 2007. He was selected over Forest Grove District Forester Mike Cafferata, who had also applied for the position.
In a message to this newspaper on May 19, Cafferata said he didn’t plan to seek the position of state forester.