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December 13, 2017
National Union Building 
918 F St NW
Washington, DC

Delegates representing state, federal and international agencies, the private sector, academia, and the NGO community examined the most critical issues faced by forest and wildland managers today. Presentation topics focused on the future of decision-making and key strategies for developing practical solutions.

RNRF’s 2017 Congress on Contemporary Issues in Forest and Wildland Management explored the effects of climate change, land-use, and community participation on forest and wildland management.

Leading experts described how:

  • funding continuity for conservation programs and the USDA Forest Service can be improved;
  • science and collaborative processes can be harnessed to improve climate-change adaptation decisions;
  • new, multimedia technology can foster support for natural resources, and increase visitation and enjoyment of national forests, parks and resource lands;
  • land-use planning methods that balance environmental, social, economic and multiple-use factors can be more effectively deployed;
  • responsibilities among federal, state and local governments can be clarified to better manage the risks of catastrophic fires in the Wildland-Urban-Interface; and
  • creative policies can promote the reconciliation of conflicts between energy development and multiple uses on federal and private land.
Congress 2017 Forest


Molly Cross
Wildlife Conservation Society
Gibson-Grant.Amy 1

Amy Gibson-Grant
The Ad Council


Sarah Greenberger
National Audubon Society

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Sarah McCaffery
USDA Forest Service


Cecilia Romero Seesholtz
USDA Forest Service


V. Alaric Sample
Pinchot Institute for Conservation


Tony Tooke
USDA Forest Service


8:15 am – 8:35 am
Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:35 am – 8:45 am
Welcome and Opening Remarks

Richard A. Engberg
RNRF Chairman
American Water Resources Association
Middleburg, Virginia

8:45 am – 9:15 am
Funding Continuity for Conservation Programs and the USDA Forest Service
Forests and wildlands provide recreational, spiritual, aesthetic, and economic benefits for society. However, financial support for managing public lands and resources has eroded over the past two decades. What steps can be employed to correct the long-term erosion of funding? Funding the suppression of wildfires has become a major problem because of adverse impacts on the Forest Services's non-fire programs. How can this situation be remedied?

Tony Tooke

Tony Tooke has worked for the USDA Forest Service since he was 18 years old. Most recently he served as Regional Forester for the Southern Region. Previously as Associate Deputy Chief for the National Forest System, 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. Tooke has also 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 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 sssistant, silviculturist, and forester on six ranger districts in Mississippi and Kentucky.

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.

USDA Forest Service
Washington, D.C.

9:15 am – 9:45 am
Questions and Discussion

9:45 am – 10:15 am
Adapting Forest and Wildland Management in Response to a Changing Climate
Predicting the long-term impacts of climate change on forest and wildland ecosystems is difficult. How can current monitoring and data collection techniques be adapted to improve public decision-making? What institutional changes are necessary to promote climate-conscious adaptive management?

V. Alaric Sample

V. Alaric Sample is a senior fellow and president emeritus of the Pinchot Institute for Conservation in Washington, D.C. He served as president there from 1995-2015. He has worked in the public and private sectors, including work in resource economics and forest policy as a senior fellow at the Conservation Foundation, and later as vice president for research at the American Forestry Association.

Sample earned a Ph.D. in resource policy and economics from Yale University. He holds an MBA and a master of forestry both from Yale, and a bachelor of science in forest resource management from the University of Montana.

Senior Fellow and President Emeritus
Pinchot Institute for Conservation
Washington, D.C.

10:15 am – 10:45 am
Questions and Discussion

10:45 am – 11:00 am

11:00 am – 11:30 am
Expanding the Use of Multimedia to Foster Support for Natural Environments and Resources
There is a need to renew and foster appreciation for conservation, preservation and use of natural resources in the public domain. Multimedia is a tool to reach the public and advance values of conservation. How will traditional marketing, advertising and public outreach be adapted to reach new audiences?

Amy Gibson-Grant

Amy Gibson-Grant is Vice President of Campaign Development of the Ad Council. The Ad Council has some of the longest-running and most successful public service campaigns in history, such as the Wildfire Prevention campaign featuring Smokey Bear. Since 2008, Gibson-Grant has led and managed marketing communications campaigns such as Public Service Advertising for Wildfire Prevention, Re-connecting Kids with Nature, and Discover Your Forest.

Gibson-Grant earned a Bachelor's degree in Communication Studies from New York University.

Vice President, Campaign Development
The Ad Council
Washington, D.C.

11:30 am – 12:00 pm
Questions and Discussion

12:00 pm – 12:30 pm

12:30 pm – 1:15 pm
Luncheon Presentation:
Managing Ecosystems Today with the Science that You Have

Molly Cross

Molly Cross is the Climate Change Adaptation Coordinator for the North America Program of the Wildlife Conservation Society. Her work focuses on bringing together science experts and conservation practitioners to translate broad-brush climate change adaptation strategies into on-the-ground conservation actions. Cross has contributed to several national climate change efforts including the U.S. National Climate Assessment, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies guidance on incorporating climate change into state wildlife action plans, and the Climate-Smart Conservation guide to climate adaptation. She is the Science Advisor to the WCS Climate Adaptation Fund, which supports applied projects demonstrating effective interventions for wildlife adaptation to climate change.

Cross earned a Ph.D. in Environmental Science, Policy and Management from the University of California, Berkeley.

Climate Change Adaptation Coordinator
Wildlife Conservation Society
Bozeman, Montana

1:15 pm – 1:45 pm
Reconciling Energy Development with Multiple Uses
Oil, gas, and mineral extraction and renewable energy development can cause extreme disturbances to entire ecosystems. Some federal agencies managing forests and wildlands have a mandate to promote energy development, preserve ecological integrity, and encourage multiple uses – goals that often conflict. What steps can be taken to diminish the adverse effects of energy development on renewable resources, ecosystems, and their surrounding communities?

Sarah Greenberger

Sarah Greenberger oversees the National Audubon Society’s national policy team and coordinates Washington-based strategies. Greenberger also leads Audubon’s Working Lands program which focuses on building public and private partnerships to advance collaborative conservation solutions on landscapes dominated by private farms, ranches and forests. Greenberger came to Audubon from the U.S. Department of the Interior, where she spent five years driving strategy and policy for the agency as a counselor and senior advisor to Interior Secretaries Ken Salazar and Sally Jewell. In that role, she was instrumental in shaping the pioneering Greater Sage-grouse conservation strategy working closely with Audubon, Western State Governors and other stakeholders. She has also served as Legislative Counsel to Senator Benjamin L. Cardin and was a clerk to Judge David S. Tatel on U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Greenberger obtained her Bachelor's degree from Williams College and her Juris Doctor from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Vice President, Conservation Policy
National Audubon Society
Washington, D.C.

1:45 pm – 2:15 pm
Questions and Discussion

2:15 pm – 2:45 pm
Evolving Land-Use Planning Approaches

The 2012 Planning Rule, and subsequent 2015 Final Derivatives, guide development, amendment, and revision of land management plans across the National Forest System. The rule was developed to address contemporary planning issues like sustainable recreation and climate change. How are forest mangers anticipating and incorporating future impacts of climate change and community needs into revised forest plans?

Cecilia Romero Seesholtz

Cecilia Romero Seesholtz has served with the Forest Service for 33 years, working in forests from Oregon to Arizona to Michigan. Most recently she has served as the Forest Supervisor for Boise National Forest since 2008.

Seesholtz holds a Bachelor's degree from the School of Forestry at Northern Arizona University.

Forest Supervisor, Boise National Forest
Acting Director, Ecosystem Management Coordination
USDA Forest Service
Washington, D.C.


Jamie Barbour

Assistant Director of Adaptive Management, Ecosystem Management Coordination
USDA Forest Service
Washington, D.C.

2:45 pm – 3:15 pm
Questions and Discussion

3:15 pm – 3:30 pm

3:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Managing Residential and Commercial Inholdings and Interface Developments—The Wildland-Urban-Interface

Wildfires are becoming more devastating as more people move into the Wildland-Urban-Interface (WUI), the zone of transition between unoccupied land and human development. How can the responsibilities of firefighting and resource provision among the federal government, states and counties be delineated and clarified? What measures can be taken to reduce wildfires in the interface? 

Sarah McCaffrey

Sarah McCaffrey is a research forester at the USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station in Fort Collins, Colorado. She conducts and coordinates research to better understand the social dynamics of fire management. As more people move into high fire hazard areas, their active involvement in fire management will be central to successful efforts to reduce the hazard. McCaffrey’s research helps clarify the reality behind much of the conventional wisdom about public beliefs and actions in relation to fire and fuels management, and what shapes those beliefs and actions.

McCaffrey is also currently responsible for a National Fire Plan grant examining social acceptability of fuels treatment methods. She has helped initiate almost two dozen studies in a variety of ecological and geographical settings across the country, examining a range of topics including what shapes acceptability of prescribed fire and thinning, why people do or do not implement defensible space practices, and social issues around post-fire restoration. Additionally, she is involved with the Fuels Planning synthesis project, a national effort to synthesize current scientific knowledge on fuels treatments from both the ecological and social perspectives and provide it to managers in accessible format.

McCaffrey holds a Bachelor's degree in international relations from Stanford University, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in wildland resource science from the University  of California–Berkeley.

Research Forester, Rocky Mountain Research Station
USDA Forest Service 
Fort Collins, Colorado

4:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Questions and Discussion

4:30 pm

Robert Day
Executive Director



Richard Engberg, RNRF Chairman; American Water Resources Association



Robert Day, RNRF Executive Director

John E. Durrant, RNRF Vice-Chairman; Sr. Managing Director, Engineering & Lifelong Learning, American Society of Civil Engineers

Lisa Engelman, Alternate Director, RNRF Board of Directors; American Water Resources Association

Sarah Gerould, RNRF Board Member; Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry

Paul Higgins, RNRF Board Member; Director, Policy Program, American Meteorological Society

Lu Gay Lanier, RNRF Board Member; American Society of Landscape Architects Fund

Raj Pandya, RNRF Board Member; Program Director, Thriving Earth Exchange, American Geophysical Union

Howard Rosen, RNRF Board Member; Public Interest Member; USDA Forest Service (retired)

Nancy C. Somerville, Alternate Director, RNRF Board of Directors; President, American Society of Landscape Architects Fund

Barry Starke, RNRF Board Member; Public Interest Member; Former President, American Society of Landscape Architects

Kasey White, RNRF Board of Directors; Director of Geoscience Policy, Geological Society of America


RNRF Staff Liaisons:

Attiya Sayyed, Program Manager

Amber Todoroff, Program Manager


Special Thanks:

Leslie A.C. Weldon, Deputy Chief, National Forest System, USDA Forest Service

Katie Hoover, Specialist in Natural Resources Policy, Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress

Robin O'Malley, Director, North Central Climate Science Center, U.S. Geological Survey

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