U.S. Forest Service chief Sherman to resign May 8

The Coloradan who has headed the U.S. Forest Service is leaving after a tumultuous four years when the agency did battle with ski areas and fought some of the state’s most destructive blazes.

Harris Sherman, a former head of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, will leave his post May 8 as undersecretary of natural resources and the environment in the Department of Agriculture.

Sherman said now is “a good time to transition to new leadership” in the spot, which includes direct supervision of the Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service.

He joins fellow Coloradan Ken Salazar, who served four years as secretary of the interior, in leaving the administration in President Barack Obama’s second term.

In his letter of resignation, Sherman listed a new forest planning rule as a major accomplishment, as well as protecting communities from the ravages of wildfires.

Sherman brought “Colorado common sense to the Obama administration and its management of our national forests and public lands, which create jobs and are a big part of our high quality of life,” said U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo.

Udall lauded in particular Sherman’s work on the Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act, which allows ski areas to increase tourism and job creation throughout the year.

During Sherman’s tenure, the Forest Service also became embroiled in a court fight with the National Ski Area Association over the agency’s demand that ski areas turn over new water rights in order to obtain permits to operate in national forests.

A federal judge ruled that the Forest Service had failed to involve the public in drafting the directive and ordered the agency to reconsider the directive and seek public comment.

The Forest Service has yet to announce plans for public meetings to discuss the directive.


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