Forest Service ranger heading to Bureau of Land Management
SILVERTHORNE – U.S. Forest Service Dillon District Ranger Jamie Connell has accepted a field manager position with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Glenwood Springs. She starts her new job Jan. 12.
“It was a struggle for me,” Connell said of her decision to leave after three-and-a-half years with the agency. “But it’s a great opportunity. I’m really looking forward to it. I also have mixed feelings about departing Summit County. I’ve so much enjoyed working with the people here. Summit County and the Forest Service are very lucky to have these people working here.”
An interim ranger has yet to be appointed.
Connell will oversee 600,000 acres of land in her new position at the BLM. She will deal with river issues, recreation, oil and gas and travel management. The position is similar to that of a U.S. Forest supervisor.
Connell believes the transition shouldn’t be too difficult.
She started work in public lands management with the BLM in Montrose in 1985, and worked in Montana and Idaho before moving to Summit County in 1999.
She’s most proud of the Building Bridges Initiative, a plan that brought local entities and the Forest Service together. During her tenure here, Connell also participated in the transformation of the revised White River Forest Plan from an outdated document to the final draft.
“When I first got here it had been released for only a short time,” she said of the then-preferred Alternative D. “The controversy in Summit County was heated. But in working closely with the county and local government and user groups – the Summit Fat Tire Society, the motorized community, Friends of Eagles Nest – we were able to really make some positive changes in the final plan that a lot more people could support.”
She said the process was an education in and of itself.
“People who were extremely frustrated and angry became far more interested and knowledgeable as the process went along,” she said of the public’s participation. “Because of that, we were able to submit very useful comments.”
Implementation of the plan is what will provide the most challenges, Connell said.
“What’s most important is that we continue to work with the local community,” she said. “It’s going to be difficult. But any plan would have been difficult. And it’s very expensive, and budgets are slim. We’re going to have to be very creative with partners, think of smarter ways to provide good visitor service. The Forest Service plan is leading us in the right direction.”
Connell said she hopes to build upon the partnerships she’s formed between the Forest Service and many others in her new job.
“Being in Glenwood Springs with the BLM and now knowing people with the Forest Service, I’m looking forward to creating some better public service and better working environment to create some efficiencies within the agencies,” she said. “There are things the Forest Service does that are brilliant, there are things the BLM does that are outstanding. We can learn from each other, and we don’t always share that information as well as we should. The public expects that of us.”
Connell said she’ll miss Summit County.
“Dillon (Ranger District) is a great place,” she said. “There are a lot of challenges, but it’s a very rewarding place to work. The resources are world-class, the ability to recruit volunteers is amazing. I’ve just enjoyed this job so much. I’m looking forward to new challenges, but there’s always that regret leaving something behind you enjoy so much.”
Her parting advice to an incoming ranger?
“Take advantage of the people here, both on the forest and in the community,” she said. “Don’t think you need to do it all yourself – if you try, you’ll sink fast. You can’t handle it by yourself.”
Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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