Aspen-Sopris District Ranger Schroyer takes promotion in Oregon after very active years
Karen Schroyer won’t have any trouble remembering her last year as Aspen-Sopris district ranger.
Schroyer is leaving the post in August for a promotion as the deputy forest supervisor on the Mount Hood National Forest in Oregon. She will be based in Sandy and help oversee an area famed for its ski areas on Mount Hood and incredible trails just a short distance from Portland.
She had five busy years in the Roaring Fork Valley, including one dominated by the Lake Christine Fire last summer and an extreme avalanche cycle this winter.
“I just have to stand back and say ‘What an experience,’” Schroyer said Thursday afternoon.
She played a leadership role in the Forest Service’s response to the fire and ongoing efforts to aid in recovery.
She said she was fortunate to not only witness the effort required to battle the blaze but also the “coming together of the community.”
The district’s challenge this spring has been getting facilities, trails and roads open after countless avalanches deposited mangled tree trunks and debris in several valleys. The size of the avalanche that struck the Forest Service’s Conundrum Valley trailhead was particularly awe-inspiring, Schroyer said.
She said the challenges of the last year are just part of the job. This year wasn’t more stressful than prior years.
“I wouldn’t say more stressful, just different,” she said.
For example, in her first year as the district ranger the area was facing an outbreak of bear interactions with humans. There were issues with backpackers, tent campers and trail users. It spurred the district to implement food and trash storage regulations for campers at developed sites and in the backcountry. The Forest Service expanded the availability of bear-proof containers at campgrounds.
The Aspen-Sopris Ranger District also established more stringent overnight camping regulations at the popular Conundrum Hot Springs during Schroyer’s tenure and established a reservation system. The moves were needed to stop damage to natural resources.
The district is laying the groundwork for expansion of the reservation system to other areas that are being loved to death in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness.
“Although we are sad to see her leave the White River, we are thrilled that Karen will be furthering her career with the Forest Service,” White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams said in a statement. “Karen has been an incredible ambassador for the Forest Service in the Roaring Fork Valley. Her experience and knowledge will serve her well in her new leadership role.”
The Forest Service credited Schroyer for her ability to build strong community and partner relationships and galvanized the continued stewardship and sustainability of special places on the forest.
Schroyer said she feels like she is ready for the next step in her career but it is difficult to leave the Roaring Fork Valley. Her job was made easier and more rewarding due to the support the public has for the Forest Service and for preserving its natural resources, she said.
“It’s a sincere thank-you to everyone in the valley,” she said.
She will report to her new job in early August. The White River forest leadership is searching for a new Aspen-Sopris District Ranger.