Ketelle takes job in Lakewood
SUMMIT COUNTY – White River Forest Supervisor Martha Ketelle is working at the regional Forest Service office in Lakewood, and – despite rumors to the contrary – not leaving her job in Glenwood.
Ketelle has swapped positions with Steve Deitemeyer, the regional director of recreation and public services, so she can expand her experience within the organization. She will work there until the end of November, he said. Ketelle could not be reached for comment Friday.
“The (U.S.) Forest Service has a program that allows all its employees to expand and cross-train and get experience in different levels,” Deitemeyer said. “It allows me to come out here and work through a period of time when we have ongoing issues.”
Those issues include managing the ongoing fire season, preparing for the winter sports season and lending his experience as the newly revised White River National Forest Plan goes through the appeals process. Additionally, he will help with the White River National Forest Travel Management Plan, now in the beginning stages of development.
Deitemeyer started his career with the Forest Service in 1961 as a summer seasonal employee. He was promoted to permanent status in 1965. In his capacity as regional recreation director, Deitemeyer is in charge of developed sites, winter sports, trails and heritage resources, in addition to public affairs and as a legislative liaison. His area includes 23 million acres of land in Colorado, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska and Kansas.
During his 37 years in the Forest Service – he took three years off to serve in the military – Deitemeyer has worked on the Routt, Pike and San Isabel forests in Colorado; the Black Hills forest in South Dakota; the Bridger-Teton forest in Wyoming and the Rogue River forest in Oregon.
He has experience in wildlife, timber, water and minerals and has served as a district ranger in the Pike National Forest, a deputy forest supervisor on the Bridger-Teton forest and forest supervisor on the Rogue River. Additionally, he was the assistant director of recreation, heritage and wilderness programs in Washington, D.C.
The step from forest supervisor to a regional director position is logical, said Gary Severson, executive director of the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments.
Forests are managed at the local level in districts; Jamie Connell heads up the Dillon Ranger District. The next step up is forest supervisor, the position Ketelle usually holds. That office is based in Glenwood Springs. Above that is the Lakewood-based regional office, in charge of Forest Service lands in five states. That office has a variety of programs, including the recreation program Deitemeyer usually heads. Above the regional office is the Washington, D.C. office.
“Steve is an old salt; he’s been around the Forest Service a long time,” Severson said. “He’s an expert at developing positive relationships, he’s been involved with and knows how to deal with controversy, he has an extensive background in recreation and travel management. It’s a way to bring in someone who’s been a little removed from the situation to look at the next phase of forest appeals and transportation management.”
When asked if the Forest Service might be grooming Ketelle for a regional position, Severson said, “I think there’s some linkages you could read between the lines.”
Deitemeyer, however, said he has not announced any retirement plans.
“Steve has more experience in the Forest Service than Martha,” Severson added. “Martha still has a career in front of her. It’s a way to give Martha the experience.”
Forest Service officials recently completed five meetings to determine what citizens want out of the Travel Management Plan. After the data is evaluated, each district and the supervisor’s office will hold work sessions where citizens will work in focus groups to address individual trail use. Forest officials expect the entire process to take two years, Deitemeyer said.
“The spirit is to get folks who know the country, who know where those special places are and which special places generate special experiences,” Deitemeyer said. “We’re going to roll up sleeves and start drawing on maps. From there, we can formally designate systems.”
Citizen input is crucial to the process, he said.
“The only way we’ll be able to maintain travel and access opportunities and special recreational settings is working together with towns, the community, user groups, individuals, volunteers and partners,” Deitemeyer said. “No community, including the Forest Service, has sufficient resources to do it all alone.”
Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 228 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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