Greetings to you and I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season with your friends and loved ones!
First of all, as most of you may know, long-time DNR Forest Stewardship Program Manager Steve Gibbs retired in December after more than 28 years with DNR, and over 35 years serving small forest landowners. Steve has been a key player in DNR’s Forest Stewardship Program. A graduate of the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Steve worked in Maryland and Idaho before returning to school to earn a master’s degree in Forest and Range Management at WSU. Steve came to DNR in 1989 to lead a restructuring of the department’s Service Forestry Program in southwest Washington. In 1991, he was selected to lead DNR’s newly created Forest Stewardship Program and he continued in that capacity until retirement. Steve’s dedication, great humor, infectious laugh and infinite knowledge of the program is unmatched and will be sorely missed. We wish the very best for Steve as he moves on to the next chapter of his life.
Changes at SFLO
I would like to share with you some exciting changes that are taking place in the Small Forest Landowner Office. Since Steve’s retirement, we decided to consolidate the Forest Stewardship Program into the Small Forest Landowner Office. The time was ripe to make these changes designed to continue to provide both service programs while making best use of existing and anticipated funding.
Here are the main changes that are underway:
- First, we’ll change the supervisory position that Steve has served into a field-based position that will provide both traditional Forest Stewardship Program and SFLO Technical Assistance services. This will provide more “boots on the ground” to help address the needs expressed by small forest landowners for assistance. We hope to get this position in place sometime in early 2018.
- Second, we’ll move the duty station for this revised position to eastern Washington in order to better serve the concentration of small landowners in that area.
- Third, we’ll modify the duties of the two existing Forest Stewardship Program positions and the single SFLO technical assistance forester position so that they all deliver both Forest Stewardship Program and SFLO Technical Assistance services.
- No change is anticipated for the services that our stewardship fish and wildlife biologist provides.
Regarding our state capital budget-funded programs (the Forestry Riparian Easement Program, Family Forest Fish Passage Program, and the Rivers and Habitat Open Space Program), much of the change is due to the fact that the legislature has yet to pass a capital budget for the current biennium. The resulting lack of funding (with no change in sight) has necessitated changes that wouldn’t have been made otherwise. With that said, I am pleased to report that we’ve found good solutions that keep all of the affected “capital” funded staff working in DNR, while maintaining in the three capital programs the “core” people who are so important to our ongoing success.
Although saddened to lose Steve’s extensive expertise and experience (but thrilled for him as he gets ready to begin his next chapter in life), we are excited about the opportunity that these changes represent; we’ll be able to effectively and efficiently provide both Forest Stewardship and SFLO Technical Assistance services to landowners. I am very hopeful that these changes to the Small Forest Landowner Office will provide more opportunities to provide important support and services to the small forest landowner community across the state. If you have any questions about the changes to the Small Forest Landowner Office, please feel free to contact me at (360) 902-1415 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org