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Mark Rey resurfaces

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Former Agriculture Undersecretary Mark Rey has a new job in Washington, D.C., but it's not with the U.S. Forest Service.

WildLaw, a Montgomery, Ala.-based nonprofit environmental law firm, hired Rey as a "part-time advocate" on Capitol Hill.

"The U.S. Forest Service is on the verge of major positive changes in its management of our public forests," said Ray Vaughan, WildLaw's executive director, in a statement. "However, current laws and the arcane budget process for the agency significantly hamper the development and growth of the scientifically sound, landscape-scale restoration work the agency could and should be doing. We needed an advocate in D.C. who will champion the need for congressional support for restoration and protection of national forests through new legislative and funding vehicles."

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Specifically, WildLaw hired Rey to try to increase funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and Forest Legacy. The firm's goal is to raise money to increase land acquisition in the south, the statement said.

Rey made local and national headlines last year when he tried to secure a closed-door deal between the Forest Service and Plum Creek Timber Co. that would have allowed Plum Creek to use shared roads to access residential development. Sen. Jon Tester asked for a probe into the entire negotiation process and county officials filed Freedom of Information Act requests for easement documents. Plum Creek eventually backed out of the deal, and Rey's tenure as undersecretary ended when the Obama administration took office.

Vaughan didn't return a call seeking comment, but Rey says that under lobbying ethics rules he's barred from representing any entity in front of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the Forest Service for the next year. He's also barred for life from lobbying on any specific issue that fell under his personal responsibility.

"I'll probably be helping them with the congressional relations work for the most part," Rey told the Indy.

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