Forest Service names new White River chief
Maribeth Gustafson, forest supervisor of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit in California, has been named the new head of the White River National Forest, which surrounds Aspen.
Gustafson, a 24-year career Forest Service employee, replaces Martha Ketelle, who moved to the agency’s national headquarters in Washington, D.C. last summer.
“Maribeth will be a wonderful addition to our team,” said Rocky Mountain Regional Forester Rick Cables in a press release issued today by the agency.
Gustafson, 49, has been forest supervisor in Lake Tahoe since 2000. She will arrive at the White River National Forest headquarters in Glenwood Springs later this spring.
“I am honored and excited about joining the communities and employees of the White River National Forest,” she said in a prepared statement. “I’m looking forward to working with all of them in caring for some of the nation’s most spectacular natural resources and world-class recreation destinations.”
Gustafson will prove a good choice for the 2.3 million-acre White River, predicted Jack Blackwell, Pacific Southwest regional forester. His region includes Lake Tahoe. She has done a good job of establishing close ties with the community and working with the public in her present post, he said.
“Her broad expertise in land-management issues, including her outstanding work with ski areas and other recreational interests, make Meribeth an ideal fit for the White River National Forest,” Blackwell said.
The Rocky Mountain region’s Cables stressed the need for just the right candidate to replace Ketelle during a gathering of Forest Service officials in Aspen last summer.
“Our goal is to get the best,” he said last August. “We’re not going to be in a hurry … we’re going to take our time to make sure we have a right fit.”
The agency placed a high priority on appointing a new White River supervisor who understands the importance of collaborating with the local community, Forest Service Associate Chief Sally Collins said during the August meeting.
“This is a really important one. There’s a lot of people interested in who we put in this position,” she said.
Gustafson is a California native and a graduate of San Diego State University. Her former posts include: assistant forest supervisor of the Humbolt-Toiyabe National Forests in Nevada and California, and assistant director for Fire and Aviation Management in the Pacific Southwest Regional Office.
For more on Gustafson’s appointment, see Saturday’s Aspen Times.
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