Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

By Andi Bourne
Pathfinder 

Keeping things moving on the Seeley Lake Ranger District

 

February 7, 2019

Photo provided

Seeley Lake Acting District Ranger Quinn Carver with his wife Susan.

SEELEY LAKE – Despite a delayed start due to the furlough, Seeley Lake District Acting Ranger Quinn Carver started his four-month assignment Jan. 28. During his detail, Carver's emphasis for the District is health and safety first, internal and external relationships and keeping the lights on and business moving forward. This includes proposing three fuels projects within the wildland urban interface near Kozy Korner and West Side Bypass and around the Liberty fire.

Carver secured his first permanent job with the Forest Service on the Helena National Forest, Townsend Ranger District in 1994 as a wildlife biologist. From there he spent two years in Wrangell, Alaska as a Interdisciplinary Team Leader, five and a half years as Krassel District Ranger on the Payette National Forest in Idaho and then returned to Montana in 2006 for his current job as the Staff Officer for Natural Resources on the Kootenai National Forest in Libby, Mont.

Carver said Krassel is one of the "last true backcountry Districts." The District is 1.2 million acres with 800,000 acres in the Frank Church Wilderness and is not connected to a town.

Carver said because of this past experience, he has a good grasp of wilderness, backcountry management and recreation including snowmobiling, skiing and aviation. He's also been the timber and planning staff officer on the Kootenai for the last 12 years and is well versed in timber, wildland fire, wildlife, fish, and threatened and endangered species including bull trout, grizzly bear and lynx

"In Seeley Lake you have all of that condensed into a very small space," said Carver.

Carver was in Seeley Lake working with the District during the first several weeks of the Rice Ridge fire.

"I have a pretty strong appreciation for how that fire impacted this community through smoke, through closing the lake down, outfitter and guiding," said Carver. "Right now, over furlough, the biggest thing was keeping things running."

Over the furlough, the urgent need was facilitating the Rich Ranch, the Seeley Lake Driftriders and Race to the Sky's activities going in the midst of an active timber sale.

Now that he is in place as the Acting District Ranger, he is putting health and safety first, working on internal and external relationships and keeping business moving forward.

"I've been dealing with the urgent based on those three principles so that campgrounds open on time and local businesses can count on certain services happening," said Carver.

Carver said he is relying on internal and external relationships during his time on the Seeley Lake Ranger District.

"Relationships are banks and you put a lot of effort into them and sometimes you have to take some out," said Carver. "If you are going to get something done, the only way you do it is through relationships."

Carver said he has a lot of internal relationships already on the Lolo, Flathead, Bitterroot and the Kootenai National Forests and knows the three to five year plan for all four forests. He also went to college with several employees on the Lolo and on the Seeley Lake District.

"If I don't have the knowledge, generally I know where to find it," said Carver.

Along with ensuring daily District operations continue and the District is setup for the summer months, Carver hopes to start the implementation of three fuel projects focusing on the WUI against private land, providing timber product to the mill, managing fuels with new tools and working with the District's partners and DNRC.

The first project is a 3,000-acre unburned area adjacent to private land in Kozy Korner. The second is around the West Side Bypass in the direct line of sight if a fire came from the west.

The third project is removing the trees that are dying due to insect and disease from the latent effects of the Liberty Fire. This is an effort to proactively manage the area.

"The point for targeting some of these projects is to give ourselves a better chance of defending the town, inserting firefighters safety and [adding] fuel breaks so if we got another Rice Ridge situation, we are in a better situation to fight it," said Carver. "If I can get at least a concept around these three projects, we can talk about allocating resources to them and then fit them into the program of work."

Even though the Lolo National Forest has yet to utilize the Good Neighbor Authority under the Farm Bill, the Kootenia National Forest has already done some projects under the Authority. Carver said he will draw on the Koonenia's resources to help pave the way for the District to work with the DNRC and utilize the tools offered in the $1.3 trillion Omnibus Bill passed by Congress last March.

"[The Forest Service] is working with DNRC at least locally, at a level like we have never worked with them outside of fire. All Lands that Governor Bullock put in place has [also] set the table for us to do great things between the DNRC and Forest Service," said Carver. "But it is a lot of change and different ways of looking at things and doing things that will unnerve a community like Seeley that is so dependant on the business that spawns from that land."

Carver said a huge part of the Omnibus Bill was collaboration. He recognizes the collaboration between all the stakeholders with the Seeley Lake Ranger District under Tim Love's and Rachel Fiegley's leadership and looks forward to continuing those relationships.

"The whole idea is taking bigger swathes in the wildland urban interface [across all land ownership] where the effects are well known and there is large collaboration," said Carver.

Carver acknowledged that he needs to work with the community and while the answer may not always be yes, "you can work on the maybes within the space we have to work in and maybe you can accommodate some [requests]."

Carver asks the community for patience with all the changes. The new Forest Supervisor for the Lolo National Forest has been hired and Carver is unsure how the furlough will affect the length of his detail that was suppose to last until May 1.

"The things that are going to get us through it is the relationships," said Carver. "The only way to go is 110 percent, especially in a time of change. The opportunity is now."

 

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