Canton Repository

July 14, 2001

Canton native nominated for federal post


WASHINGTON — Mark E. Rey has spent years developing a vision to bring together local interests, environmentalists and the government in an effort to conserve but also make use of the nation’s natural resources.

With his nomination by President Bush to one of the highest ranking positions in the Department of Agriculture, Rey, a Canton native, could have the opportunity to put his ideas into action.

Rey, 48, is the proposed undersecretary for natural resources and the environment at the Agriculture Department, which is led by Secretary Ann M. Veneman. The U.S. Forest Service, which manages the national forests, is part of the department, while the National Park Service falls within the Department of the Interior.

A longtime lobbyist for the timber products industry, Rey has served since 1995 as a key staffer on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s panel on forests and public land management. He earned bachelor’s degrees in wildlife management and forestry and a master’s degree in natural resources policy and administration from the University of Michigan.

Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, who chairs the subcommittee on which Rey is a staff member, released a statement calling him “one of the nation’s foremost experts in the protection and management of forests” and said he would bring a “balanced, scientific approach.”

The administration has asked Rey not to discuss his nomination prior to a hearing in the Senate, which has the authority to accept or reject the nomination, a spokeswoman for Rey said.

But Rey, who went to Central Catholic High School and whose parents live in the Canton area, has left a long paper trail from speeches he has delivered around the country.

Last October, in a speech at the University of California Berkeley, he called for a new environmental ethic for the West that would involve a collaborative relationship between the region’s old rural society made up of people engaged in logging, mining and agriculture, and a newer wave of urban immigrants drawn by the outdoor lifestyle.

“We must discard the doctrine of the primacy of national interest groups, where decision-makers are selected from national organizations, and return to the doctrine of local community interest,” he said. “We should not allow federal bureaucracies and national organizations to overwhelm the fragile process of local consensus-making, working within the framework of national environmental laws.”

Sarah Berk, a spokeswoman for Craig, said Rey has a reputation for bringing all interests to the table and forging an acceptable compromise.