For Kelly Jardine, the Sawtooth National Recreation Area's deputy area ranger, moving to Idaho from Arizona was moving in the right direction.
Jardine, 45, arrived in Stanley June 8 and began work at the Stanley Ranger Station amidst snow flurries on June 11.
Jardine was born and raised in Blackfoot, Idaho, and his first U.S. Forest Service assignments were on the Salmon and Targhee national forests. But for the past 19 years he has worked in recreation on two different ranger districts on the Tonto National Forest in Arizona.
"I came from triple digits to snow," said the man with a degree in forestry from Utah State University. "It's good to be back. Idaho feels like home."
Jardine said the bulk of his work on the Tonto National Forest was in recreation, managing dispersed and developed recreation sites, administering special use permits, managing the minerals program and directing the area's of wild and scenic rivers and wilderness inventory.
Although it's a list that looks similar to issues on the SNRA there are some distinct differences, he said.
"That was an urban forest, right up against a major metropolitan area," he said. "It was pretty intense recreation. People flocked to rivers and lakes where they had developed recreation sites."
But the place was very diverse, from 1,500 to 5,000 feet.
"You could be snow skiing in the morning and water skiing in the afternoon," Jardine said.
The SNRA, he said, is primarily different in that it's a higher profile place, and people are more involved in the issues than other places.
"The average Joe in Arizona didn't even know when he or she was on a national forest," he said. "It's more important here for people to be involved in the decisions that are made. It's also different in that the forest here is a bigger part of people's lives than down adjacent to an urban area."
Jardine said he is not intimately familiar with the mountains and rivers of the SNRA, but he is learning fast.
"As a kid we used to salmon fish up here," he said. "In fact it was probably one of the last years it was allowed."
Jardine's first summer of work on the SNRA didn't include too many surprises. He said, however, that he hadn't been in the area very long when a wind event flattened acres of lodgeole poine trees in the vicinity of Redfish Lake.
"That's something that doesn't happen very often that was kind of unique," he said. Other unique issues in this area include vegetation management, mountain pine beetle issues, endangered salmon and wilderness.
"The private land regulations in the Sawtooth Valley are unique," he said. "The scenic easements promote visual quality of the area. I've never worked on a unit—and there aren't that many—where the Forest Service has a certain amount of control over what happens on private lands. That's kind of unique."
Jardine knows there is new pressure in working as second in command at a national recreation area that might have been Idaho's only national park.
"It's under the microscope," he said. "It's really highlighted. It's a privilege. I consider it a privilege to be able to work here."