The number three man in the Forest Service, Deputy Chief James Overbay, has retired. Overbay, a member of the agency's old guard, was replaced by Gray Reynolds, regional forester for the Intermountain Region of national forests in southern Idaho, Nevada, Utah and western Wyoming. Environmental activists in the Intermountain Region were not thrilled with the news. Brandon Fowler, president of Friends of the Dixie National Forest in southern Utah, said, "I'm shocked. I saw him as out of the old school. I saw him as the invisible hand behind the chainsaw on the Dixie." George Nickas of the Utah Wilderness Association said, "He's been a ghost. I don't think our concerns - wildlife, wilderness management - were addressed at the regional level." Denise Boggs of American Wildlands said, "Overall, I'm real disappointed and real surprised. He has not been a leader pushing for doing things differently. He's been silent." But Mike Medberry, former head of the Idaho Conservation League, said, "In general, he's a conservative administrator who defers to his staff. He gave leeway to good folks in the regional office on ecosystem management."
Reynolds becomes one of six deputy chiefs. But because he is deputy chief for the national forests, he becomes the number three person in the agency after Chief Jack Ward Thomas and Associate Chief David Unger.