Wallowa-Whitman supervisor Schwalbach leaves; Umatilla Forest head named supervisor

Written by Baker City Herald August 10, 2012 09:14 am

Wallowa-Whitman National Forest Supervisor Monica Schwalbach has taken a new job with the Pacific Northwest Research Station in Portland, less than a year and a half after she assumed responsibility for the Baker City-based forest.

Kevin Martin, the Umatilla National Forest Supervisor in Pendleton, will serve as interim Wallowa Whitman Forest Supervisor, said Matt Burks, public affairs officer for the Wallowa-Whitman.

“Kevin believes in strong relationships, and is well known for his work with both external community groups and the internal workforce on the Umatilla National Forest," Kent Connaughton, regional forester for the Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Region, said in a press release. "Kevin’s strength of skills, in both natural resources work and community engagement, will be strong assets for the Wallowa Whitman National Forest.”

Burks said Martin will return to the Umatilla after a permanent replacement for Schwalbach has been hired. There is no timeline, Burks said, although he said Martin's assignment here could last for several months.

Martin has been working on a temporary detail on another national forest, and the Umatilla, as it does now, will have an interim supervisor while Martin is working in Baker City.

Martin will start work here on Monday, Burks said. 

Martin, a graduate of both Iowa State University and Oregon State University, has served as the Umatilla National Forest Supervisor for the past eight years in Pendleton.  The Fort Dodge, Iowa, native has degrees in Animal Ecology, Entomology, and Wildlife Science.

Kevin feels passionate about Eastern Oregon, saying, “I enjoy working and living in Eastern Oregon and have spent quite a lot of my career doing so.  I am impressed with the Wallowa Whitman National Forest employees, the landscapes they get to work in and the amount of work they have been accomplishing.  I look forward to meeting with the employees and the Forest’s publics, listening to their concerns and needs, and seeing how I can assist.  I believe good communications and understanding of one another’s needs  will lead us to achieve great things.”

Schwalbach, who replaced Steve Ellis as Wallowa-Whitman supervisor in April 2011, presided during a particularly controversial period. In March of this year she unveiled a Travel Management Plan that would have prohibited motor vehicles on about 3,900 miles of roads on the Wallowa-Whitman — about 65 percent of the road mileage open to vehicles now.

Schwalbach's decision angered many local residents, who have advocated for no roads to be closed to motor vehicles. She withdrew the decision less than a month later, and the Wallowa-Whitman is revising the Travel Management Plan.