Senate Confirms CSF-Supported USDA Nominee Dr. Homer Wilkes

  • Last week, the Senate voted to confirm the nomination of Dr. Homer Wilkes to serve as the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment under a voice vote.
  • Dr. Wilkes will now officially oversee the daily operations of the United States Forest Service which is charged with the management of millions of acres of public lands across the country.
  • Last July, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and partners voiced their support for Dr. Wilkes through a letter that was sent to Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee to demonstrate the strong support from the hunting and fishing community.

Why it matters: The Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment leads USDA’s Forest Service, an agency charged with the management of millions of acres of public lands across the United States. In addition to the Forest Service’s crucial role in providing a sustainable source of forest products, our National Forests and Grasslands provide an abundance of benefits, including quality opportunities for sportsmen and women who access these lands to participate in their outdoor pursuits.

On February 8, the Senate voted to confirm Dr. Homer Wilkes to serve as the next Under Secretary for the Natural Resources and the Environment at the Department of Agriculture under a voice vote, a sign of the wide-spread bipartisan support for Dr. Wilkes. With this confirmation, Dr. Wilkes brings a tremendous level of experience to his new position, including 41 years of experience within the USDA. Dr. Wilkes most recently served as the Director of the Gulf of Mexico Ecosystem Restoration, a position he held from 2013 until this appointment.

As reported previously, CSF maintained support for Dr. Wilkes throughout the confirmation process. Last July, CSF and 26 of the nation’s leading sporting-conservation organizations sent a letter to the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee to support the nomination of Dr. Wilkes prior to his confirmation hearing. This letter highlighted the expertise that Dr. Wilkes brings to the position, particularly as the Administration seeks to address conservation and climate challenges. Under his leadership in Mississippi, the state’s forests were the top in the nation in terms of removing carbon from the atmosphere while also ranking in the top one or two consistently in timber harvest.

As CSF and others within the sporting-conservation community continue to advocate for the use of active forest and habitat management to address climate and wildlife conservation challenges, the opportunity to work with officials such as Dr. Wilkes within the Administration is a welcome accomplishment. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation looks forward to working with him in his new role as Under Secretary to promote healthy ecosystems and abundant opportunities for our nation’s sportsmen and women.

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