Volume 1, Issue 2 - Winter 2008
Forest Service Names New Southern Research Station Director
Dr. Jim Reaves assumed the helm of the Forest Service’s Southern Research Station (SRS), headquartered in Asheville, NC, in January 2008. He is only the second director since the Southeastern Forest Experiment Station in Asheville and the Southern Forest Experiment Station in New Orleans merged in 1995—creating the leading research organization for natural resource management and sustainability in the southern U.S. His leadership comes at a time when forest science research is poised to have a voice in land management decisions affecting changing wildland and urban landscapes.
"I am excited to come back to the South and work with the Station’s esteemed scientists whose research is recognized internationally," says Reaves, who served as a SRS project leader, research scientist, and assistant station director from 1991-1998 as well as a team leader during the consolidation of the two experiment stations. "My hope is to foster an atmosphere that encourages our employees to conduct innovative and useable research that informs natural resources policy and land management decisions. I want the Station to be the premier natural resources organization that leads cutting-edge research and encourages and values a dynamic and diverse workforce."
Reaves is also looking forward to EFETAC playing a major role in the new dynamics of natural resources research. "EFETAC is developing and using accelerated tools and technology, with partners like NASA, that will benefit public and private landowners. The Center is well-positioned to attract non-traditional partners, integrate information across Forest Service Deputy areas and sister agencies, and incorporate State extension efforts." Unique partners and research "will enable people to view science in a different light and introduce forest research to new, and important, audiences."
A 26-year careerist with the Forest Service, Reaves understands the agency and knows his science. Most recently, as Associate Deputy Chief for Research and Development in Washington, DC, he provided national leadership for research programs and enhanced the agency’s external partnerships. Reaves has also held key Forest Service positions and conducted research on the east and west coasts. Additionally, he represented the U.S. as a delegate to the United Nations Forum on Forestry in Switzerland, led scientists on a USDA delegation to China, and served as a keynote speaker at a forest restoration conference in Seoul, Korea. A pathologist by training, Reaves’ research has been published in national and international science journals.
Reaves’ wealth of experience gives him exceptional insight into leading a science organization that can lend sound science to emerging forest issues. "We will continue to place emphasis on forecasting natural resource issues for land managers and policy makers, ensuring our science is consistently relevant to current issues and diverse audiences," notes Reaves, who will focus on people, partnerships, and communications during his tenure. He is committed to helping employees "be empowered, grow, and contribute" to the agency; developing and enhancing effective partnerships to interconnect social and economic natural resources issues; and exploring new and improved communication technologies to share cutting-edge science with internal and external audiences.
"So much has changed regarding natural resources issues in the South since I last worked at the Station," reflects Reaves, who grew up on a tobacco farm in rural South Carolina. "This is an exciting time for natural resources research as we address rapidly changing land uses and serious impacts from drought, wildland fire, and other natural disturbances. I also strongly believe that SRS is positioned to deliver our science in a timely, effective manner that is comprehended by a variety of audiences. When people think about natural resources in the South, I want them to think of the Southern Research Station."