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Ketelle satisfied with her tenure

Aspen Times writer

Fair or not, Martha Ketelle’s seven-year tenure as forest supervisor for the White River National Forest will be best remembered for completion of a controversial blueprint for managing the 2.3 million acres of public land.Work was just getting started on the forest plan update when Ketelle took the supervisor’s post in 1997. After five years, 14,000 public comments and countless meetings, it was completed in June 2002. The plan will dictate how the forest is managed for the next 10 to 15 years.The completion of the plan was a monumental task but it was far from the only major accomplishment for Ketelle, said a U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman.Ketelle said she is leaving the forest at a time when it is in pretty good shape. “I don’t feel there are issues or controversies beyond what we usually expect on a forest that is as heavily used,” she said.Forest Service surveys two years ago showed the White River had the most visitors of any forest in the country. With 11 ski areas, it also has the most skier visits in the country.Ketelle said the largest ski area expansion in the forest occurred during her tenure with the expansion of Vail into Blue Sky Basin. She also proudly noted that expansions were approved for each of the 11 ski areas in the forest during her time as supervisor.Other accomplishments noted by Ketelle were:• Implementation of the Healthy Forest Initiative, which includes reducing fire risk. The goal in the White River was to target 7,000 acres with prescribed burns and other management. That was twice as much as had ever been targeted before. The Forest Service treated about 95 percent of that targeted acreage this spring. Also, the agency allowed the Big Fish fire to burn in the Flat Tops Wilderness, allowing rejuvenation of 17,000 acres in spruce and fir forest.• Completion of various land swaps. The Forest Service worked with the Aspen Valley Land Trust and a private landowner to get the Independence ghost town site into public hands. The supervisor office is also assisting the effort to preserve what’s known as the High Elk Corridor for wildlife in the upper Crystal River drainage.• Getting a better grip on wilderness use. The Forest Service implemented a system to track use of wilderness areas with the idea of providing a better experience. Ketelle said she feels the program was a success, even though it wasn’t popular in the Aspen area.


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