By Michael Howell
Tami Sabol is the new Stevensville District Ranger and has only been on the job for a few days. Born in Portland, Oregon, she graduated from the University of Montana in 1996. After graduating she went to work for Plum Creek Timber Company. As senior forester she managed the Lolo and Potomac timber lands, doing procurement and bidding on timber sales. When the company took a hit during the recession in 2009, she went to work for the Bureau of Land Management in Miles City and Billings for three years. She then went to work for the U.S. Forest Service in Missoula, working in the timber program at Seeley Lake, Nine Mile and Missoula ranger districts. Her last job involved a stint in the Washington D.C. office.
Sabol has lived in the Bitterroot Valley for the last 17 years. She actually commuted to Miles City and Billings while working for the BLM. Her home, situated on seven acres, has a 360 degree view, which she cherishes. She loves animals and owns four miniature horses, two goats, and two cats. She also loves the outdoors and enjoys doing about anything from hiking to climbing and even does some scuba diving. She has climbed to the top of the five highest peaks in the continental U.S.
She said she is still getting the feel and the pulse of the Stevensville District and was not looking at any major changes “unless it turns out something is broken.” She said her vision is to be a good neighbor and form partnerships in the community. She plans on being proactive in terms of public relations outreach. She said she has a solid background working in private industry and for two federal agencies and wants to bring that experience to bear in her new job.
“I really want to make a difference,” said Sabol. “It is a tremendous honor to manage public lands.”
Eric Winthers is the new Darby District Ranger. Originally from Missoula, Winthers graduated from MSU-Bozeman in 1988 with a BS in Soil Science/Land Resource Management. He began working for the U.S. Forest Service on the Bridger Teton National Forest in western Wyoming. From there he went to work on the San Juan National Forest in western Colorado. After a stint there he went to work at the Regional Office in Denver and then worked (remotely) for the Washington office doing mapping and inventory before returning to the Bridger Teton NF to serve as Watershed Program Manager.
Winthers, who has only been on the job in Darby for a few days, said that he is still just getting his feet on the ground and familiarizing himself with ongoing projects. He said he likes to get out on the ground and plans to go on field trips on a weekly basis.
“I strive for a balance of multiple use management on the forest,” said Winthers. “I think fuels reduction and safety are important issues.” He said he was eager to do some ski slope management. He attended MSU on a ski team scholarship. He also likes to fish and does some woodworking in his spare time.
He said he operates with an open door policy.
“I think the Forest Service is part of the community and I am committed to that,” he said. “I look forward to meeting people here and working on any concerns they have.”
Winthers is married and has kids out of college and a couple of grandkids. His parents live near Victor.
Some changes are being made on the Forest that will affect the Darby Ranger District. The visitor services for the Sula and Darby Ranger Districts are being consolidated at the Darby Office as part of continuing efforts to reduce administrative costs and streamline operations.
As a result, the BNF is no longer providing walk-in, visitor services at the Sula Ranger District office as of Monday, August 31st. These services will now be provided by the Darby Ranger District office.
Visitor services include front-desk administrative services such as answering questions, providing information, and selling forest products such as firewood permits, Christmas tree permits, forest maps or passes.
“Across the Northern Region, we are taking a strategic approach to making decisions related to present and future cost commitments within three major areas: fleet, facilities and personnel, ” said Bitterroot Forest Supervisor Julie King. “We must continually adapt to increased costs, changes in the environment in which we operate and budgets that don’t keep pace. On the Bitterroot, we are faced with difficult decisions that balance the need to reduce costs and provide services to our communities. Our decision to consolidate visitor services on the Sula and Darby Ranger Districts achieves that balance.”
“We will maintain a Forest Service presence in Sula by establishing a ‘work center’ at the District which will house fire and range crews in the summer and our snow ranger program in the winter,” King said.
Susan Wetzsteon who has been the office manager in Sula for 28 years was recently promoted to another position on the Forest, located in Hamilton. Her last day as office manager was Monday.
Forest maps are available at the Sula Country Store, at all remaining BNF offices and also online through http://www.nationalforeststore.com. Maps can also be downloaded to mobile devices through the Avenza PDF Maps App, which is available as a free download from iTunes and the Android Play Store. Forest Service visitor map downloads cost $4.99 each.
Forest Service offices located in Stevensville, Hamilton, Darby, and West Fork are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to provide additional information and services. For more information contact the Darby Ranger District at 821-3913.