busy road ahead
Express Staff Writer
months spent exploring the vast and varied Sawtooth National Forest,
Ruth Monahan, the area’s new supervisor, said there is plenty here to
occupy her time.
definitely not a shortage of issues going on here," she said.
and livestock management, access and trail issues, forest plan
revisions, fires and buildup of hazardous fuels, ski area master
planning, fee demonstration, wolves and a bark beetle invasion of the
Sawtooth National Recreation Area: Those are just a handful of the
issues Monahan has identified in her short time here.
are precisely the kinds of reasons this 22-year U.S. Forest Service
employee said she likes her work.
love and passion has always been out on the ground," she said.
"You can really feel like you’re making a difference."
recently, Monahan was the district ranger for the Ogden Ranger District
in Utah’s Wasatch-Cache National Forest. There, she weathered the
controversial Snowbasin land exchange prior to the 2002 Winter Olympics,
and helped master plan Snowbasin’s legendary expansion from a
mom-and-pop ski area to a world-renown alpine powerhouse.
experience, she said, could come in handy if Sun Valley owner Earl
Holding, who also owns Snowbasin, plans significant expansions for the
resort here. Rules and regulations catered specifically for Snowbasin
raised the bar for environmental sensitivity and reclamation procedures
in the industry, she said.
started her Forest Service career as a college student performing North
Idaho timber inventories. She worked in the mid-1980s on the Challis
National Forest and was later the district ranger for the Krassel Ranger
District in the Payette National Forest.
this point in her career, Monahan said she "wouldn’t want to be
remember coming through the Sawtooths about 15 years ago and thought it
would be nice to come back," she said. "It’s kind of a dream
job to be part of all the fantastic resources over here."
said she employs a three-tiered management strategy that seems to work.
As a supervisor, she must take care of both employees and the public,
the land and relationships.
got to do what we say we’re going to do, and be involved in the
community," she said.
first issues she discussed were the invasion of the SNRA by mountain
pine beetles and a pending master-planning process for Sun Valley Co.’s
Bald Mountain ski area.
beetles constitute a natural process that "was here before and will
be here again," the fire danger posed by thousands of dead trees is
extreme. Monahan said she anticipates that an environmental study
currently under way will lead to action next spring or early summer.
recent meetings with Sun Valley Co. General Manager Wally Huffman and
Owner Earl Holding, Monahan said the ski area management agreed that the
time is nearing to draft a new Bald Mountain master plan. The last
master plan was finished in 1984.
feel like I got a commitment to restart the process," she said.
"We just need to look at where the mountain is going in the
said protecting the mountain’s diverse vegetation, views and scenic
attributes will be among the most important considerations, from a
public land manager’s perspective.
process could be started next year, she said.
is our hope."
Monahan was "extremely impressed" with the local trails
systems and cooperative recreation and public lands access arrangements.
think the work going on here is definitely a model," she said.