Longtime trail champion, Forest Service Chief Tidwell retires

Adapted from U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Department of Agriculture news releases and Florida Trail Association’s August E-Blaze

U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell retired from his position September 1, 2017. Tidwell’s distinguished 40-year career was characterized by his climb from a firefighter to a District Ranger and Forest Supervisor to the head of the U.S. Forest Service, leading more than 30,000 employees working in all 50 States plus Puerto Rico. He was appointed Chief of the Forest Service on June 17, 2009.

Tom Tidwell

Jaime Schmidt, National Trail Program Manager with the U.S. Forest Service, said, “Chief Tidwell has long been an outstanding advocate and champion of trails—from launching the Forest Service’s series of national ‘Trails Connect!’ dialogues with partners and employees, to instigating and leading development of the Forest Service’s new National Strategy for a Sustainable Trail System.”

Some of his other accomplishments include increasing collaboration with the Forest Service working with States, tribes, private landowners, and other partners for landscape-scale conservation. These efforts have helped increase the benefits Americans get from their national forests, as well as helped provide rural communities with economic stability. Tidwell also focused on building a safe and inclusive agency characterized by mutual respect and fairness. He was particularly dedicated to improving safety measures to better protect the lives and wellbeing of employees, especially firefighters. Moreover, he played an instrumental role early on in drawing attention and public support to confront the increasing severity and costs of wildfires and their residual impacts on the agency’s lands stewardship.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue praised Tidwell, saying, “From the start, we have relied on Chief Tidwell’s experience and counsel, drawing on his years of experience both in the field and in Washington. The Forest Service will miss the benefit of his knowledge but we wish him well on his retirement after more than 40 years of service with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”

Perdue said Tidwell “leaves a legacy and has also paved the way for the next leader.” Tony Tooke, who has worked for the Forest Service since age 18 (most recently as the Regional Forester for the Southern Region), was recently sworn in as the 18th Chief.

Unless otherwise indicated, all material in Pathways Across America is public domain. All views expressed herein are perspectives of individuals working on behalf of the National Trails System and do not necessarily represent the viewpoint of the Federal agencies.