GFC Director Robert Farris retires

After serving with the Georgia Forestry Commission since 1985, Robert Farris has retired as of May of this year. During his distinguished career at the GFC, Farris has served in many roles including forest management, wildland firefighter, the reforestation program, the forest inventory analysis program, District Forester, State Training Coordinator, Associate Chief of Protection, and Director of Field Operations.

Farris has served as the Comission’s Director since 2007. Farris was first made Interim Director of the GFC in December of 2006, and while serving in that role, he oversaw the devastating Okefenokee Swamp fires of 2007. The following year, in August of 2008, the commission board approved Farris as acting Director following a recommendation from Governor Sonny Perdue.

At the time, Perdue said, “Robert Farris has served the Georgia Forestry community for many years where he has demonstrated excellence in leadership. I am certain that he will continue to work to sustain and preserve Georgia’s natural resources.”

Farris went on to due so, having led the Commission during two of Georgia’s worst fire seasons and the economic downturn following the housing crisis. He has been awarded multiple times during his career, including the Governor’s Award for Outstanding Service, the American Forest Foundation’s Sustained Excellence Award, and he was named as one of the 100 Most Influential Georgians by Georgia Trend.

A seven-person committee has launched a nationwide search for GFC’s new director. Chaired by Dean Dale Green of the UGA Warnell School of Forestry & Natural Resources, the committee is made up of government, non-government and forest industry stakeholders. The application deadline is July 17, and finalist interviews will take place in August. The GFC Board of Directors will make a final decision on the person it recommends to the governor’s office for appointment.

GFC Chief of Forest Protection Frank Sorrells will serve as interim director.

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