Adapted from U.S. Department of Agriculture news releases
Tony Tooke was sworn in as the 18th Chief of the U.S. Forest Service following the retirement of Tom Tidwell on September 1, 2017.
“I am deeply humbled to have been asked to serve as Chief of the U.S. Forest Service,” Tooke said. “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.”
Tooke has worked for the Forest Service since age 18—with 37 total years of service—and was most recently 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,” said U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. “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.”
While Regional Forester for the Southern Region, Tooke was responsible for 3,100 employees, an annual budget exceeding $400 million, 14 national forests, and two managed areas, which encompass more than 13.3 million acres in 13 States and Puerto Rico. His previous position in Washington, D.C. was Associate Deputy Chief for the National Forest System, with oversight of Lands and Realty, Minerals and Geology, Ecosystem Management Coordination, Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers, the National Partnership Office, and Business Administration and Support Services.
As Associate Deputy Chief, Tooke was the Forest Service Executive Lead for Environmental Justice, Farm Bill implementation, and implementation of the Inventory, Monitoring, and Assessment Improvement Strategy. Another priority included implementation of a new planning rule for the National Forest System. Also in the WO, Tooke served as Director for Ecosystem Management Coordination, Deputy Director for Economic Recovery, and Assistant Director for Forest Management. Prior to 2006, Tooke served as Deputy Forest Supervisor for the National Forests (NF) in Florida as well as District Ranger assignments at the Talladega NF in Alabama, the Oconee NF in Georgia, and the DeSoto NF in Mississippi. His other field assignments were Timber Management Assistant, Other Resource Assistant, Silviculturist, and Forester on six Ranger Districts in Mississippi and Kentucky.
Tooke grew up on a small 200-acre farm in Detroit, AL. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Forestry from Mississippi State University. He was in the Forest Service’s inaugural class of the Senior Leadership Program, and he has completed the Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program.
“As we enter the 50th anniversary year for the National Trails System, we’re also excited to have the passion and energy that Chief Tooke brings in his new leadership role,” said Forest Service National Trail Program Manager Jaime Schmidt.
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.