Turning back the clock

  I owe my career in the Forest Service to woman pioneers such as Wendy Herrett (HCN, 12/6/04: Transforming the Forest Service: Maverick bureaucrat Wendy Herrett). Yet I disagree that discrimination has ended and that ecosystem-based approaches are valued.

I joined the Forest Service in 1983. I was the first female in a research management position. In 1991, I was one of 11 women who filled positions in the Forest Service in California (Region 5) at the end of the Bernardi consent decree for hiring women. None of us was ever promoted. In the last three years, Regional Forester Blackwell has given directed reassignments to two staff directors and two forest supervisors (including me): three women and one minority male. Since 1992, seven male and no female Forest Supervisors were promoted non-competitively in Region 5.

In October 2003, I was the last of the 11 women of the "class of 1991" remaining in the Forest Service. In January 2004, Regional Forester Blackwell reassigned me to the regional office in Vallejo. Thankfully, I was able to choose early retirement and stay in San Diego to continue conservation leadership in the community.

"Mavericks," as Herrett refers to those who are "looking to solve problems, willing to change the game a little," are being weeded out. The Forest Service is returning to its culture of conformity and loyalty.

Anne S. Fege
San Diego, California