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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sequoia National Forest gets acting supervisor

#USFS #SQF: While the U.S. Forest Service searches for a new Sequoia National Forest supervisor to replace Tina Terrell, Deb Whitman is on site to ensure the many projects on the forest keep moving forward.
Acting Sequoia National Forest Supervisor Deb Whitman poses for a photo on Monday. Whitman will be the acting supervisor replacing Tina Terrell.
Terrell left the post she had held for four years in February to become assistant director with the Job Corps, based in Golden, Colo. Whitman became acting supervisor just 12 days ago.
The acting supervisor comes to Porterville from the USFS Regional Office in Vallejo where she has been assigned the past four years. Her current position at the Regional Office is Ecosystem Management which is overlooking a wide variety of projects on the 18 national forests in the West that are under the Regional Office.
She said her duties included everything from wildlife to the forest range program, including timber management.
No. 1 on her plate at the Sequoia National Forest is seeing that the Giant Sequoia National Monument Management Plan continues to move forward. That plan to manage the 342,000 Giant Sequoia National Monument has been years in the making. The public comment period on the latest draft plan just ended and now the Forest Service is addressing and responding to the more than 60 pages of comment.
“We’re working towards releasing the final,” she said, adding that could come this fall, after a new supervisor is named. If the plan is not challenged in court, it could be implemented within a year.
The first management plan was remanded in 2006, after the Northern California District Court found the plan violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
It is expected that a new supervisor will not be named until late June or July. The USFS has yet to list the opening. Between now and July, there is plenty to do, said Whitman.
“I need to work with staff and see that stuff moves forward,” she said. The forest is in the process right now of assembling and preparing its summer fire crews. In the summer, the number of employees out of the Porterville office swells to more than 600.
There are several other projects, such as recreation enhancements, fuels reduction, rangeland plans and more.
Whitman, who has never served as a forest supervisor, is glad for the chance.
“Working here at the forest level is really exciting for me,” she said. Last week she spent much of a day in the mountains, a trip she thoroughly enjoyed. She noted how diverse the Sequoia National Forest is with its foothills, mining, rangeland, timber, Giant Sequoias, lakes, streams wilderness areas and more on the 1.2 million acre that make up the forest.
Whitman was raised among the trees. She grew up in Humbolt and is a forester by profession.

She has spent nearly all of her forest service career in California.

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****REMINDER**** Every fire has the ability to be catastrophic. The wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Growing numbers of communities, across the nation, are experiencing longer fire seasons; more frequent, bigger, and more severe, fires are a real threat. Be careful with all campfires and equipment.
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