State Legislature honors Aspen High School grad of 1986

Staff report

The Colorado Legislature recently gave special recognition to John Markalunas, who graduated from Aspen High School in 1986, for his work in the field of fire management.

Markalunas was honored with the 2020 Partner of the Year award by the Colorado State Forest Service for his role as a Bureau of Land Management fire management officer. The Legislature commended Markalunas for his work with a certificate given to him Feb. 23.

“John Markalunas has been an outstanding partner of Colorado State Forest Service and the Salida Field Office for over 15 years,” said Adam Moore, Salida and Alamosa Field Offices’ supervisory forester, in a statement. “John’s work in resource and fire management has contributed to improved health of Colorado’s forests and watersheds. His expertise and knowledge in fire and forestry is unmatched.”

Markalunas earned his bachelor’s of science degree in ecology and conservation studies from the University of Colorado in Boulder and has worked in fire and fuels mitigation for 30 years with Boulder County, the U.S. Forest Service and BLM.

Markalunas’ work with state forest service over the years has included several fuels-reduction projects implemented under the Good Neighbor Agreement, assistance with the development of several community wildfire protection plans and support for fuels reduction grants, among other accomplishments.

“I’m very flattered to be recognized by Colorado State Forest Service — those folks do amazing work,” Markalunas said in a statement. “They are a great partner to work with, whose mission aligns with my role with the BLM in fire and fuels mitigation.”

The Good Neighbor Authority, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, allows the BLM to enter into cooperative agreements with states to perform forest, rangeland, and watershed restoration projects on federal lands. It allows sharing of limited resources to achieve landscape-scale treatments that mitigate fire risk, improve forest health and reduce risk

“Interagency partnerships, such as the Good Neighbor Agreement, increase the effectiveness of forest and rangeland health initiatives across boundaries,” said Cathy Cook, BLM’s Rocky Mountain District manager. “John recognizes the need to collaborate with partners to improve the quality and quantity of work that can be achieved. I’m so proud of John’s work and recognition.”