The Tongass National Forest will soon be without its two top officials.
Forest Supervisor Forrest Cole plans to retire in April after about a dozen years in the job. He’s overseen timber sales, stewardship efforts and other agency programs in Southeast Alaska.
Cole’s deputy, Tricia O’Connor, is moving to a new Forest Service job in Wyoming. She’ll be supervisor of the Bridger-Teton National Forest, which borders Yellowstone National Park, starting in February.
Both have been based in Ketchikan. Neither was immediately available for comment.
The supervisors work under Alaska Regional Forester Beth Pendleton, who also oversees Southcentral’s Chugach National Forest.
Cole came to the Tongass about 35 years ago and worked in management positions throughout Southeast. Most recently, he’s been a leader in the forest’s transition from old-growth logging to harvesting younger trees.
O’Connor has been Tongass deputy forest supervisor since 2011. She’s been in the region almost 15 years, beginning as Yakutat district ranger.
Both positions have been posted on USA Jobs, a federal employment website.
The Tongass is the nation’s largest national forest, at about 17 million acres. Most of Southeast Alaska is within its borders.
We’ll have more on the Tongass management changes in future reports.