It was so exciting to come into the office on the first day and wonderful to meet everyone in the US. Forest Service Dillon, MT supervisor’s office. I have lived nearby the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest for the last 10 years, and immediately, I was welcomed with open arms and folded into the family. The B-D is a massive forest, a smidge over 3 million acres and encompasses 5 districts and my familiarity has been a great boon. I am serving in the south zone lands and special uses. In my very first week, I was able to get into the field with my mentor Jeff to discuss a proposal and see the site with our own eyes.
I am a latecomer to the Summer 2022 cohort, I started in the fall so I’ve had a more informal orientation to the Forest Service than other resource assistants. I feel lucky to have had boots on the ground immediately, but since I am the first Resource Assisstance Program (RAP) intern in special uses on my forest, it has been challenging finding my way. My main responsibility has been to sort historical files for a massive scanning project that lands is engaged in. In some ways, I am grateful for this too as I have a deep reservoir of context that I draw on as I learn more. Some of my trainings have been overwhelming with the information, but I had the “ah-ha!” moment that helped me realize my role. Lands is about balance. As a special-uses administrator, I help coordinate the relationship between the land and the people. Recreation deals with many of the fun things for the public, but lands deals with the critical infrastructure. This is a community deeply connected to and reliant on the land, and balance is essential for long-term conservation goals and community stewardship. We work with the power companies to bring electricity across the forest and to the people. We work with private landowners to facilitate a positive and balanced relationship.
Balance is critical to all aspects of life. Work, life, family; we strive to strike a balance in all things and the forest is no different. Yes, I have spent a lot of time in the office with the dusty, old, files, but my work will help to modernize our department. We administer the bureaucratic side and that is balanced by time spent in the forest connecting with the land and reinvigorating our passion for the mission and the reason we do the work, to care for these treasures and preserve them for generations.
The Forest Service balances the needs of the land with the needs of the people and brings them together. We will be denying the proposal I mentioned, since the project would upset the delicate balance of the forest as it is. We will need to navigate this denial carefully to maintain the relationship between the landowner and the agency, balancing our mutual needs.
After this month, I really want to stay with the Forest Service. The mission resonates deeply, and I will be working toward a permanent position after my internship because I want to be a part of maintaining the balance!
Agency: U.S Forest Service
Program: Resource Assistant Program (RAP)
Location: Alaska Office of Law Enforcement