GEMA/HS Dispatch December 2017 Edition - Page 25

The new face of Georgia Forestry GFC Director Chuck Williams continues path of public service By Uyen Le Schneider C huck Williams’ career as Director of the Georgia Forestry Commission may have officially started in September, but his interest, work and knowledge of natural resources, forestry and the environment has been lifelong. “The Forestry Commission was far from being a foreign entity to me when this opportunity came about,” said Williams. Over the last 10 to 15 years, Williams’ relationship with the commission has developed and grown through his interactions as a customer and as a member of the GFC Board of Directors. Williams said he had never considered applying for the position until someone nominated him after former GFC Director Robert Farris retired in May. But, he was even more surprised when his nomination was approved. “I’m a little bit of a nontraditional choice. Traditionally, the new director of the Forestry Commission, whenever that job becomes vacant, would typically be a career employee that came up through the ranks.” He believes the board’s break from tradition was due to his vision and goals for the agency. Williams plans to take more of an external role as director of GFC and will hire a deputy director to oversee the day-to-day internal workings. Williams’ external role will focus on economic development, markets for timber, and collaborating with other state and federal agencies. “I really tip my hat to my predecessors and directors of agencies that have had to do both jobs at one time, both the internal and external,” said Williams. Williams’ goal for GFC on a micro basis is to support the agency’s mission to protect and manage Georgia’s forestry sources, which entails the protection of Georgia trees against natural disasters like fire, infections and windstorms. This also means working with land owners to ensure Georgia has healthy forests that contribute to the state’s economic well-being. On a macro basis, William believes the agency not only serves forest landowners, but all citizens in Georgia. “Whether you’re a forest landowner or not, forestry provides assets to every Georgian in the form of clean air, clean water, wildlife habitat, aesthetics and recreation — a lot of things where you don’t have to own the land to benefit from it,” said Williams. From his standpoint, today’s forestry industry is not just about growing trees commercially for timber and forestry products. It’s also about providing a clean and sustainable environment for all Georgians. Georgia has 24.1 million acres of commercial timberlands, more than any other state in the nation. Williams says his goal is to keep Georgia as number one. “Some states might argue with us, but I think Georgia can rightfully lay claim to being the number one forestry state in the nation. My goals and objectives for the Forestry Commission are pretty simple: the number one forestry state in the nation deserves the number one state forestry agency.” Prior to joining GFC, Williams served in the Georgia State Legislature starting in 2011 when he was elected to represent District 119 – Watkinsville. During his tenure as state representative, Williams served on the agriculture and consumer affairs and the natural resources and environment committees, making him no stranger to the forestry industry. Williams is excited about his new role and looks forward to continuing to serve Georgia citizens. With his broad background, his goals and vision for the agency will reap statewide benefits. DISPATCH