Delta Stewardship Council Names New Executive Officer

A former Forest Service official with background in large-scale, contentious projects has been named the new executive officer of the Delta Stewardship Council, it was announced today.

Chris Knopp, a recent high-level official with a 34-year career at the U.S. Forest Service, replaces Joe Grindstaff, who is retiring. Knopp has extensive experience working with local, state, and federal agencies on a broad array of issues balancing ecological, social and economic concerns in California and across the country, the council said in a news release announcing the appointment.

Knopp, who takes the helm as the council prepares to finalize its Delta Plan and move into the implementation phase, said the DSC’s task is daunting but achievable.

“It represents the challenge of a lifetime. Success will require balance and compromise – and sound science so the nature of the compromises can be known and understood,” he said in a release.

DSC Chair Phil Isenberg expressed confidence in Knopp’s ability to bring new approaches to the task at hand.

“Chris is not an aging water warrior, but a smart guy who can take a fresh look at old problems,” Isenberg said. “The council is very impressed with his management style, sense of humor and judgment, as well as his ability and experience in dealing with complex natural resource issues.”

Knopp retired from the U.S. Forest Service in November 2011 after a career that included leading the ecosystem conservation group at Lake Tahoe and the National Watershed Program in Washington, D.C. His last appointment was as a supervisor for the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona, where he helped create and develop the 2.4 million acre Four Forest Restoration Initiative, the largest restoration project in the American West.

The Four Forests Restoration Initiative brought together federal, state, and local agencies and stakeholders over several years to develop a plan for landscape-scale restoration that will provide for fuels reduction, forest health, and wildlife and plant diversity. A key objective is to create sustainable ecosystems in the long term while allowing some harvest, processing and selling of wood products.

While at the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Knopp also implemented 45 projects under the American Restoration and Recovery Act, oversaw the White Mountain Stewardship Project, and completed both the forest’s land management and travel management plans. While director of the National Watershed Program, he created a national water quality program for the Forest Service that required the cooperation of a number of federal and state agencies and organizations including the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit.