Office of Special Counsel to Investigate Firing of U.S. Forest Service Whistleblower

by John J. Berger, Ph.D and Lani Maher

On January 8th, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel announced that it would reopen its investigation into the United States Forest Service’s alleged retaliatory actions to fire Alaska wildlife biologist Glen Ith from his position with the USFS. Ith sued the USFS in 2006, “over road repairs and bridge building in the Tongass National Forest in southeast Alaska – work that was being done before timber sales were approved and environmental impact work conducted.” 1 Shortly after winning his case, the USFS suspended Ith from his position and later dismissed him, citing budget cuts as the reason for his firing. He died four days after losing his job.

The Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics (FSEEE), an environmental nonprofit organization based in Eugene Oregon, works to protect whistleblowers like Glen Ith and their families from similar reprisals. FSEEE also strives to halt detrimental logging operations in the Tongass National Forest, as do other environmental organizations including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, and Earthjustice. For updates on the ongoing litigation, and to send support to the FSEEE, please visit their website.

Glen Ith fought to keep roadless portions of the Tongass from being logged. Please read more about this effort.