Submitted by Lawrence Lucas

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There will be an oversight hearing Thur. Nov. 15th 10:00 am Eastern regarding misconduct in the Forestry Service. I would encourage you to share this and watch the hearing either live or archived via this link.

https://oversight.house.gov/hearing/examining-misconduct-and-retaliation-at-the-u-s-forest-service/

House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Trey Gowdy has asked the Department of Agriculture for extensive documents related to sexual harassment and misconduct at the Forest Service, citing persistent reports of such conduct and retaliation against employees who report it.

In an Oct. 22 letter to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen, Gowdy (R-S.C.) requested all communications regarding anti-harassment policies sent or received by top officials overseeing the Forest Service and all regional foresters since Dec. 2, 2016.

He also asked for information including the number of employees disciplined or terminated in relation to anti-harassment policies since that date, as well as an accounting of penalties imposed. And he asked for all personnel actions associated with employees who filed complaints or reported sexual misconduct or harassment since Jan. 1, 2016.

Gowdy asked the department to comply by Nov. 5. As of this morning, the committee hadn’t received a response, a spokeswoman said.

His letter comes on the heels of several Forest Service initiatives to combat a history of sexual misconduct and harassment in the agency, particularly in firefighting crews. Christiansen took over earlier this year after Tony Tooke resigned as Forest Service chief, following backlash over his own past conduct — a relationship he had a decade earlier with a lower-ranking Forest Service employee when he was a regional forester.

Addressing sexual misconduct is a top priority, USDA Undersecretary for Natural Resources and Environment James Hubbard has said. He oversees the Forest Service (E&E Daily, July 25).

Christiansen has vowed to turn the Forest Service around, including setting up a system encouraging employees to confidentially report incidents, and conducting anti-harassment training. The Forest Service also agreed to a recommendation by USDA’s Office of the Inspector General to hire outside investigators for a year to delve into harassment issues.

“Despite these actions, alarming reports of misconduct and retaliation at the USFS persist,” Gowdy said. One report on PBS included interviews with 34 current and former female employees who experienced such conduct, and a “Dateline NBC” report in September revealed some women employees doubt the new reporting system will adequately address harassment reports, he said.

Brandy Hill
Patrol Captain

Forest Service

Law Enforcement & Investigations

Region 9 – North Central Zone(Michigan)

p: 906-428-5882
f: 906-428-9040
brandyhill@fs.fed.us

820 Rains Drive
Gladstone, MI 49837
www.fs.fed.us

Caring for the land and serving people

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