Forest boss working with Nature Conservancy | VailDaily.com
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Forest boss working with Nature Conservancy

Heather McGregor

White River National Forest supervisor Martha Ketelle is temporarily working for The Nature Conservancy in Boulder as part of a federal leadership training program.

Filling in for Ketelle as acting supervisor of the forest – which stretches from Vail to Aspen – is Glenda Wilson, who is the director of engineering for the Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region Office in Lakewood.

The job swap started three weeks ago and will last a total of 12 weeks.

“The purpose of leaving the job you’re in is to look at leadership from a different perspective than your own agency,” Ketelle said. “We can do that in another agency, or by going outside government and looking at agencies that work with us,”

Top level officials in the Forest Service and The Nature Conservancy signed an agreement in 2001 calling for cooperation between the two organizations, so the connection was already established, she said.

“Because partnering and collaboration is so important to us now in the Forest Service, going out and learning about an organization we have already entered into an agreement to work closely with has value,” she said.

Ketelle’s goal while she works with the conservation group, which devotes much of its efforts to buying lands for preservation, will be learning how The Nature Conservancy enhances bio-diversity and protects habitat.

Bio-diversity is the variety of living things and the ecosystems they inhabit.

The chief of the Forest Service, Dale Bosworth, included the need to protect open space for bio-diversity as one of the four main issues for public lands. As such, it’s an important focus of work for the Forest Service.

The other issues are wild fires, invasive species and unmanaged recreation.

“What The Nature Conservancy does is identify critical habitat and protect it for a large range of species. They do it by eco-region, while we do it one species at a time, forest by forest,” Ketelle said.

Ketelle said she wants to use her job swap time to study whether The Nature Conservancy’s big-picture approach could work for the Forest Service as the government agency seeks to protect endangered species like lynx or sage grouse.


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