Mike Dombeck (born 1948)
14th Chief of the Forest Service, 1997-2001
Michael P. Dombeck was born in Stevens Point, Wisconsin on September
21, 1948. It was was here in northern Wisconsin's lake country that his appreciation
for natural resources was cultivated. Dombeck worked as a fishing guide in the region
for 11 summers. He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in biological sciences
and education from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point and the University
of Minnesota. He earned his doctorate in fisheries biology from Iowa State University
and is noted for research contributions on muskies and lake habitat management.
In addition, Dr. Dombeck has authored numerous scholarly publications and made frequent
national as well as international scientific presentations.
Early in his working life, Mike Dombeck taught biology, chemistry, science,
zoology, and fisheries management at public schools and universities. He joined
the Forest Service in 1978 as a fisheries biologist, spending 12 years with the
agency, primarily in the Midwest and West. As the national fisheries program manager
in Washington, D.C., he was recognized for outstanding leadership in developing
and implementing fisheries programs and forging partnerships. In 1989, Mike
Dombeck began serving as science advisor and special assistant to the Director,
Bureau of Land Management.
Dombeck was named Acting Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in
February 1994. In that position, he focused on two major objectives: creating a
long term BLM vision to improve the health of the land and reinventing the agency
to reduce red tape, streamline functions and improve customer service.
As Forest Service Chief, Mike Dombeck focused his efforts on promoting partnerships,
collaborative stewardship, accountability, and financial health. Early in 1998,
Dr. Dombeck introduced the Forest Service Natural Resource Agenda. This agenda identifies
four emphasis areas. They are:
- Watershed Health and Restoration
- Development of a Long-Term Forest Roads Policy
- Sustainable Forest Management
Mike Dombeck wrote
: "Watershed maintenance and restoration are the oldest and highest callings of
the Forest Service. The agency is, and always will be, bound to them by
tradition, law, and science. The national forests truly are the headwaters of
the nation. Congress recognized this well over 100 years ago and in the
intervening years repeatedly reinforced that message. Our agenda places a
renewed emphasis on ensuring that our watersheds are protected and restored for
the use and benefit of our citizens.
We cannot simply preserve our wilderness areas and national parks and by
extension hope to protect our natural resource heritage. We cannot afford to
manage our national forests and other public lands in isolation of state and
private lands. We must work with state and local governments and communities to
link neighborhood creeks and tree lined streets to the sea bound rivers, state
and national parks, and forests.
Our agenda takes the not-so-new position that we must do more to sustain and
restore the fabric of the whole landscape. If we are wise enough to understand
the physics of splitting the atom, advanced enough to communicate
instantaneously around the globe, if we can feed billions of people, surely we
can act with enough foresight and wisdom to protect and restore our lands and
waters. If this nation, of all others, cannot demonstrate how to live in harmony
with the natural world that sustains us, what hope is there for other nations?"
Area Conservation" by Mike Dombeck, January 5, 2001.