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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of July 31 - August 6, 2002


Supervisor sees busy road ahead

Express Staff Writer

After two 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.

"There’s definitely not a shortage of issues going on here," she said.

Ruth Monahan

Grazing 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.

But they are precisely the kinds of reasons this 22-year U.S. Forest Service employee said she likes her work.

"My love and passion has always been out on the ground," she said. "You can really feel like you’re making a difference."

Most 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.

That 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.

Monahan 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.

But at this point in her career, Monahan said she "wouldn’t want to be anywhere else."

"I 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."

Monahan 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.

"We’ve got to do what we say we’re going to do, and be involved in the community," she said.

Among the 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.

Though 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.

Also, in 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.

"I 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 future."

Monahan 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.

The process could be started next year, she said.

"That is our hope."

Additionally, Monahan was "extremely impressed" with the local trails systems and cooperative recreation and public lands access arrangements.

"I think the work going on here is definitely a model," she said.



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