Randy Moore to be first Black leader of U.S. Forest Service

“Randy Moore has been a catalyst for change," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stated

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Randy Moore will make history as he steps into the role as the 20th Chief of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service by becoming the first African American to serve in the position.

Moore will become the first Black leader in the agency’s 116-year-old history upon getting sworn in.

In a statement released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the historic news, calling Moore “a catalyst for change.”

“Randy Moore has been a catalyst for change and creativity in carrying out the Forest Service’s mission to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations,” Secretary Vilsack wrote

Vilsack continued to highlight Moore’s notable experiences.  

“In his role as Regional Forester, Randy 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,” Secretary Vilsack continued.

“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.”

Since 2007, Moore served as Regional Forester in the Pacific Southwest Region in California. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, he oversaw 18 national forests that stretched over 20 million acres of land, covering one-fifth of the state. He’s also been responsible for State and Private Forestry programs in Hawaii and the U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands.

Before serving as Regional Forester in the Pacific Southwest Region in California, Moore worked for five years as the Regional Forester for the Eastern Region headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the U.S. Department of Agriculture shared.

Randy Moore will serve as the first Black leader of U.S. Forest Service. (Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture)

Moore’s career in conservation goes back to 1978 where he started working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service in North Dakota. His experiences in the field come from a wide range of positions, which he served in across various states.

“[Moore’s] Forest Service career began on the Pike and San Isabel National Forests in Colorado and the Comanche and Cimarron National Grasslands in Kansas. He served as Deputy Forest Supervisor on the National Forests of North Carolina and the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri before serving as Forest Supervisor of the Mark Twain National Forest,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture shared in a statement. 

In addition to those experiences, Moore has experience on a national level in the nation’s capital, working as acting Associate Deputy Chief for the National Forest System and the National Deputy Soils Program Manager, per U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Moore also studied in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in plant and soil science from HBCU Southern University.

As Moore gears up to transition into his new role, he will have support during the process, the U.S. Department of Agriculture stated. Current Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen will step down from her position on July 26; however, she will still be involved with the transition. 

“Chief Christiansen and Regional Forester Moore 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,” the U.S. Department of Agriculture shared in a statement.

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