by Kristen Beverage Doss

An inside look at the Forest Service

Living in Pocahontas County my entire life, I have always been aware of how forests, rivers and mountains have made an impact on my little community. They provide tourism opportunities, income, fun outdoor activities and, most importantly, a connection with nature I don’t think I could gain anywhere else. However, growing up here I never really thought about who or what managed my favorite spots in my stomping grounds. I had always known that the USDA Forest Service existed, but I never fully understood what went on there – until now.

Back in September, I started a position at the USFS Marlinton Ranger Station as a Partnership and Community Development intern through the Resources Assistant Program. To be honest, my expectation of the Marlinton Ranger District was that they had a handful of employees who managed timber and recreation sites. I was sorely mistaken.

The Marlinton-White Sulphur Ranger District employs more than 40 people in areas from forestry, engineering, biology, recreation, botany, construction, administration, maintenance and so much more. Not to mention all the partnerships with different federal and state agencies, non-profit organizations – and all the acronyms that come with them. The ranger station was much different from the vision I once had in my head. It was a well-versed endless web of people and organizations who love the little place that I call home.

As I gained my footing with my new employer, I was placed on more and more projects.  I then realized that a large initiative for the Monongahela National Forest was to connect with the community and support the local economy. Being a local, I felt that this was a great and much needed effort for my hometown and county. I am proud of where I am from and a new project really caught my interest. I had been assigned to help organize US Forest Service outreach meetings for local contractors here in West Virginia.

After the devastating floods in 2016 there are many flood restoration projects that must be completed or repaired. So as a way to stimulate our local economy, the Forest Service is seeking help from the ones who are most directly affected by the work of these projects. Locals.

Any contractor who specializes in excavation, highway construction, heavy equipment operation and trail or bridge construction is welcome to come to the informational meetings. They will discuss how to become involved, the type of work, location and there will be lots of time to answer individual questions. The meetings will be held:

· February 27: 1 p.m., Richwood City Hall, 6 White Avenue, Richwood

· March 1: 10 a.m., Phil Gainer Community Center, 142 Robert E. Lee Ave, Elkins

· March 14: 9:30 a.m., Marlinton Wellness Center, Ninth Street and Third Avenue, Marlinton

· March 14: 1:30 p.m., White Sulphur Springs Public Library, 344 W Main Street, White Sulphur Springs

So if you know someone who would be interested, don’t be shy. Come on down to one of the meetings and see what the buzz is all about. If you have any questions or need more details, please contact me Kristen Beverage-Doss, at kbeverage@fs.fed.us or 304-799-4344 Ext. 32.

More articles are on their way, and great things are happening in the Forest.

Until next time – get outside and enjoy your public lands!