Thinnes named acting ranger in Eagle |

Thinnes named acting ranger in Eagle

Kathy Heicher

The rangers have changed, but the priorities remain the same.

Jim Thinnes, interim district ranger for the Eagle Ranger District of the White River National Forest paid a visit to the county commissioners Feb. 24 to introduce himself to local leaders. Thinnes is stepping into the position recently vacated by ranger Cathy Kahlow, who is now director for recreation and engineering for the entire White River National Forest.

Thinnes stressed that his appointment is likely a temporary one, though he will be in charge of the local office for the next three months. The acting ranger, who has a degree in natural resource management, has spent 25 years with the Forest Service, primarily in timber resource management and hydrology, as well as some recreation work.

The Forest Service will eventually place a deputy ranger in Eagle, in keeping with an ongoing effort to consolidate of the Eagle District and Holy Cross Ranger District, in the upper Eagle Valley. Thinnes said full consolidation is actually five to 10 years out. Forest officials have said they intend to keep a presence in both ends of the valley, but will likely consolidate administrative services into a new facility, probably in the Eagle area.

Thinnes said the eventual move down valley reflects concerns about the cost of living for forest employees. Many who work in the Holy Cross District office at Minturn live in the lower end of the valley.

Among the ongoing projects in the forest are:

– White River National Forest Travel Management Plan. The agency has completed its initial “scoping” of this plan, which will spell out roads and travel policy for the forest in coming years. Thinnes said planners are now identifying issues, and responding to citizen comments. The Travel plan proved to be the most controversial aspect of the forest management plan revision during the past few years, and was separated out for further study.

The Forest Service will identify several alternative plans ranging from resource protection to a total recreation plan, or something in between. The agency will put the alternatives out for public consideration and comment this summer. A final environmental impact statement is planned for next winter, followed by a decision on a travel management scenario.

– The Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management are working on the National Guard’s request for a permit for increased landing locations for their High Altitude Army Training Site helicopter operations.

Thinnes said the Forest Service is in the process of analyzing potential locations that could meet the HAATS needs.

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