Newton to head Dillon Ranger District |

Newton to head Dillon Ranger District

Roger Peterson/Leadville ChronicleRick Newton, an 18-year U.S. Forest Service veteran, has been named the new head of the Dillon Ranger District, overseeing activities on the 80 percent of county land in the White River National Forest.

SILVERTHORNE – Rick Newton has been named to the permanent post for the Dillon Ranger District, succeeding Jamie Connell, who was transferred out earlier this year. Newton is no stranger to the Dillon District – he served a stint as acting Dillon ranger earlier this year.

“I’m jazzed about coming back to Summit County and staying a little longer this time,” said the 18-year U.S. Forest Service veteran.

He assumes his new responsibilities at the Silverthorne-based district ranger office Oct. 5, replacing current acting district ranger Paul Semmer, who returns to his regular position as a community planner with the lands and minerals staff.

The Dillon Ranger District is a division of the White River National Forest. As head of the district, Newton will oversee public lands comprising about 80 percent of Summit County. He also becomes a key partner to the county’s four ski resorts, which are permitted to use public land.

Newton said his first priority will be rebuilding his staff into a cohesive team.

The Dillon District filled three long-standing vacancies in late August with recreation staff officer Ken Waugh, geographic information systems coordinator Jessica Pettee and lands staff officer Cam Meyer.

Three additional posts remain vacant.

Once the district office is up to speed, Newton plans to focus on the implementation of the new revised White River National Forest management plan, with particular emphasis on the Upper Blue Stewardship Project.

The Upper Blue project includes new management directives for forest health, trails, camping and other recreational activities.

Other prominent issues on his plate include environmental projects at Summit County’s four ski resorts and trail reconstruction efforts along the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail/

Colorado Trail corridor.

Newton began his Forest Service career in 1985 as a National Forest System wildlife biologist at the Pacific Northwest Experiment Station in Olympia, Wash.

His first assignment was monitoring the health of old growth forests using the spotted owl as an indicator species.

Subsequently, he took an assignment as the district wildlife biologist with the Mount Hood National Forest in Oregon, followed by a post as a resource assistant at the Targhee National Forest in Ashton, Idaho, where he studied the impacts of mountain pine beetle infestations in lodgepole and ponderosa pine habitat across the southwest portion of the greater Yellowstone ecosystem.

By the summer of 1996, he was the acting forest wildlife biologist at Deschutes National Forest headquarters in Bend, Ore., specializing in landscape and forest health planning.

He then moved on to another temporary assignment at the Umatilla National Forest in Walla Walla, Wash., before moving to the White River National Forest in the spring of 2000, when he assumed the district ranger post at the Leadville Ranger District.

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