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New job offers district ranger great scenery

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By Vince Luecke

Carey says goodbye to Southern California; returns to her roots

TELL CITY - Just seven weeks into her new job, Anne Carey already feels at home in Perry County. As district ranger for the Hoosier National Forest, she and her staff are key stewards for thousands of acres of public lands in the county, affecting residents and visitors alike.

Carey began her duties Sept. 29, moving from the Cleveland National Forest in southern California. She was recreation director there, helping oversee programs on the century-old 460,000-acre forest located near San Diego and spread across Orange, San Diego and Riverside counties.

The chaparral and high-elevation forests were weekend destinations for thousands of Californians but offered quiet most weekdays, Carey said. "It was a weekend forest; if you wanted solitude, you visited in the middle of the week."

Carey's eastward move to take the district ranger's job, left vacant by the retirement early this year of Jim Denoncour, brought her back to Midwestern roots. She grew up near St. Louis and after joining the Forest Service, worked in the Mark Twain National Forest in Missouri and later in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and Wyoming. A two-year leave of absence allowed her to volunteer in Sierra Leone from 1989 to 1991.

Her new job is multifaceted. She is the Forest Service point person on forest issues and she'll have a supervisory role in implementing a forest-service plan adopted in 2006. It provides a 10- to 15-year guide for forest activities, including recreation, trails, timber harvesting and overseeing special areas. Carey will also help lead the battle against invasive plants and animals, such as the emerald ash borer.

While her office is at the ranger station in Tell City, Carey will also spend considerable time in the Hoosier National Forest office in Bedford and in the 200,000-acre forest itself. Just last week she visited the Mogan Ridge area in Perry County, site of recent prescribed burning that generated complaints when smoke didn't disperse.

Carey regretted the problem and said she and other Forest officials are always open to suggestions on how programs can be improved.

Unlike the Cleveland National Forest, the Hoosier National is spread out and not all of its holdings are contiguous. "Our ownership is scattered, which means we have a lot of neighbors in different counties," she said.

A voluntary recreation-use survey of visitors began last month and will continue through September 2009. The nationwide survey is designed to determine how many people visit the forest and the recreation activities in which visitors participate while they are there.

The information will help officials, including Carey's boss, Hoosier National Forest Supervisor Ken Day, better serve visitors and draw new ones.

A Beautiful Place to Work

Though her time in Indiana has been short, Carey is drawn by the forest's natural beauty and the changes each season of the year brings. "I love the fall colors," she said. "I've been telling friends in California how beautiful the weather has been."

Carey plans to host an open house, probably after the holidays, to introduce herself to the public. She can be reached at 547-7051.

More information on the Hoosier National Forest is available at www.fs.fed.us/r9/hoosier.

Forest Facts

Approximately 201,000 acres in size with two ranger districts covering nine southern Indiana counties, the Tell City District makes up about 57,900 acres.

Major local attractions include Celina, Indian, Tipsaw and Saddle lakes, German Ridge Lake and recreation area, Buzzard Roost Recreation Area and Mogan Ridge.

A forest plan adopted in 2006 addresses management issues such as biodiversity, wildlife and recreation management and watersheds. It also allows prescribed burning and timber harvesting in some areas of the forest, identifies other portions as special areas because of unique plant communities, geography or history.