The second annual Montana Counties Forest Summit was held in early May, where two awards were presented to Mineral County nominees. One went to Superior District Ranger Carole Johnson, and the other to the West Zone NEPA Team.
The summit, which partners with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation (DNRC) and the Montana Coalition of Forested Counties, offered the first Montana Forest Counties Partnership Award.
The award was created to recognize individuals and/or groups of individuals that have demonstrated the ability, desire and leadership skills required to carry out projects that create above-average results on the ground.
Nomination forms were sent to commissioners in 34 Forest County members in Montana. After reviewing the results from these nominations, two awards were presented — one individual and one group. The nominee and information provided by the Mineral County Commissioners provided the basis for this year’s award recipients, explained Willie Peck, a member of the Mineral County Resource Council.
A May 11, 2018, letter sent to Lolo National Forest Supervisor Tim Garcia from Greg Chilcott, chairman of the Coalition of Forest Counties, and Mineral County Commissioners chairman Roman Zylawy stated that the Lolo National Forest has been increasing the number of acres they have been treating in the last few years, and in no place has that been more evident than on the West Zone of the Lolo.
Between September 2014 and July 2018, NEPA decisions on the Superior/Thompson Falls Ranger Districts will have produced an estimated 187 million board-feet of timber volume outputs, of which 109 MMBF is from just the last year alone.
Ranger, team ‘organized, efficient, focused’
In the Superior Ranger District, between January 2015 and June 2018, National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) decisions have produced an estimated 138 MMBF of timber volume outputs. For the three-year period 2015 thru 2017, the Superior Ranger District sold an average of 22.7 million board feet annually — making up 62 percent of the annual harvest on the Lolo National Forest.
The letter explained that Johnson and the West Zone Team were “organized, efficient and focused on the tasks ahead of them. Their success is illustrated by the work they have accomplished and the work they have in progress, including having the first large salvage project (Sunrise) through the NEPA process. They are a model we are very pleased to recognize and include in our first Montana Forest Counties Partnership Awards.”
Johnson, who became the District Ranger in 2015, works closely with the local natural resource collaborative and with county commissioners. As a valued member of the local community, she supports and organizes numerous other projects, including volunteering on the fair board each year.
“She works hard on the forest and her efforts influence our schools, unemployment rate, and helps sustain our last remaining sawmill in the county,” the letter stated.
Partyka leads West Zone Team
The West Zone NEPA Team is led by Pat Partyka, who has lived in the area for 30 years.
“A ranger can’t accomplish all the projects and work all by their self. Rules, regulations, studies and analysis translates into a long grueling process that must be completed before projects happen in today’s world. This is why Pat and her team members were recognized with the group award.”
Members of the West Zone Team include Carly Aniballi, Claire Campbell, Lorie Cotter, Bruce Erickson, Ann Hadlow, Jon Hansen, Deb Job, Erika Karuzas, Mike Mueller, Craig Odegard, Kris Richardson, Wanda Smith, Dave Wrobleski, Heather Berman, Travis Pfister, Dave Hattis and Partyka.