The Oregon Board of Forestry has nominated Calvin Mukumoto of Coos Bay to become the next state forester.
The board unanimously approved Mukumoto’s nomination to the position at a special board meeting on Friday, held via Zoom.
“I’m honored at this point and almost speechless,” Mukumoto told the board.
The state forester heads the Oregon Department of Forestry, which is in charge of managing and protecting state-owned forests. If Mukumoto accepts the nomination, he’ll take over the agency as it grapples with the threats posed by climate change.
“We have a world that’s been turned upside down by climate change and the new fire reality,” said Jim Kelly, the board chair.
Mukumoto began work as a forester in the late 1970s and most recently ran as a Democrat for a seat in the Oregon House of Representatives, which he lost to Rep. Boomer Wright, R-Coos Bay. Mukumoto has also vice-chaired the Board of Forestry and chaired the Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission.
In his application, Mukumoto emphasized his work on behalf of Native American tribes, including Warm Springs Forest Products Industries.
Mukumoto will replace Nancy Hirsch, who served as acting state forester since May when embattled agency head Peter Daugherty left the post. Daugherty was a lightning rod for criticism.
For example, OPB reported in 2017 that Daugherty strongly rejected the science and purpose behind a report from the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality linking water quality issues to logging. His tenure was also marked by significant financial woes at the Department of Forestry.
At the board meeting, Kelly thanked Hirsch for her “tremendous leadership” over the past several months.
“It’s just been pretty incredible to see her step in and get things done in this department,” Kelly said. “She has not been a person who’s just kinda held things together. She’s really moved the department along, made a lot of significant changes and really prepared for this next transition.”
Kelly and other members of the board also thanked finalists Therese O’Rourke and Jim Paul.