Robert Bonnie

  • Robert Bonnie

Robert Bonnie

Former Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment, U.S. Department of Agriculture

As a Rubenstein Fellow, Bonnie will work with students and faculty to address issues related to climate change and natural resource conservation in rural America. Through research and convenings, Bonnie will lead the development of an environmental agenda for rural America that relies not on top-down regulation but on collaboration and incentives that provide substantial environmental gains and economic opportunities for agriculture and forestry. Bonnie will also share his experiences in environmental policymaking with students through seminars and career advising sessions.


From August 2013 to January 2017, Robert Bonnie was the Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In this role, Bonnie oversaw the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service on a variety of natural resource issues, including management of the 193 million acre National Forest and Grassland System, implementation of Farm Bill conservation programs on America's farms, ranches and forests, and climate change. From April 2009 to July 2013, Bonnie served as Senior Advisor to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack for environment and climate change. Prior to joining the USDA, Mr. Bonnie was Vice President for Land Conservation for the Environmental Defense Fund where he focused on developing incentives to reward farmers, ranchers and forest owners for stewardship activities on private lands. Mr. Bonnie has master degrees in forestry and environmental management from Duke University. He grew up on a farm in Kentucky and now lives in Virginia.

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Robert Bonnie News & Events

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27Mar, 2017

There Will Be Fire: Congress fights over how to fund, respond to wildfires

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Washington Examiner | September 27, 2017 By Josh Siegel Western lawmakers are pushing for Congress to address funding and management challenges at the U.S. Forest Service as the government struggles to respond to an extreme year for wildfires. Democrats and Republicans representing states affected by wildfires say the problem demands the same attention as recent hurricanes, as…

27Mar, 2017

We Worked for Bush & Obama: Here's a bipartisan solution to America's wildfire problem

Friday, August 11, 2017

USA TODAY | August 11, 2017 Op-Ed by Robert Bonnie and Mark Rey Roughly 7-8 million acres burn in wildfires annually, almost twice as many as three decades ago — we must take action. Republicans and Democrats aren’t supposed to agree on much these days, particularly when it comes to the environment and management of our…

27Mar, 2017

Wildfires on the Rise Due to Drought and Climate Change

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

60 Minutes |May 28, 2017 By Steve Inskeep Fighting wildfires in America cost federal agencies almost $2 billion last year including more than half the budget of the U.S. Forest Service. Wildland fires are growing worse in a time of drought and climate change, and the biggest and most destructive fires can’t be stopped. They are…