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Know the West

Dombeck shakes up agency

  Forest Service Chief Michael Dombeck announced Aug. 8 that he will move some of the agency's top managers. In the coming months, two of the West's most spotlighted regional foresters will shuffle off the map.

Hal Salwasser, regional forester for Montana, northern Idaho and North Dakota since 1995, is headed to Berkeley, Calif., to run a research station. Some observers see the move as a demotion for Salwasser's opposition to the buy-out of the New World Mine outside Yellowstone National Park.

Taking Salwasser's place will be Dale Bosworth, presently the regional forester for Utah, Nevada, western Wyoming and southern Idaho. Bosworth has a reputation for being an adept administrator, though Utah environmentalists say he's shown little initiative on conservation issues. Bosworth's replacement has not been announced.

Dombeck has also moved Elizabeth Estill, regional forester for Colorado, eastern Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas since 1992. The first female regional forester, Estill has worked on air and water quality issues, but also pushed to open roadless areas to logging. She'll head the 13-state Southern region based in Atlanta.

Lyle Laverty, Forest Service recreation director, will replace Estill. Laverty has been instrumental in creating the agency's user-fee demonstration program.

Bridger-Teton Forest Supervisor Sandra Key is also leaving. Key, known for defending wildlife habitat from the oil and gas industry, will work on programs and legislation in Washington.

While he isn't shocked by the shuffle, Michael Francis of the Wilderness Society says it's a step in the right direction. "I hope this is just the beginning," he says. "In order to make changes, you've got to rock the boat." - Greg Hanscom