Candidates for top TRPA, Forest Service posts identified |

Candidates for top TRPA, Forest Service posts identified

The exhaustive searches are over. Now it’s a matter of narrowing down lists of highly qualified people for the jobs.

The top positions at two important Lake Tahoe agencies likely will be filled this spring. The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency has been without an executive director since early January and the Forest Service’s Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit hasn’t had a forest supervisor since August 1999.

In the Forest Service, the chief of the federal agency, Mike Dombeck, will make the final decision, with the help of recommendations from Brad Powell, the top official in the agency’s Pacific Southwest Region.

Matt Mathes, Forest Service spokesman for the region, said those recommendations have been forwarded to the Washington office. Officials hope a decision is made by March or April.

Forest Supervisors typically come from within the federal agency and are often supervisors elsewhere, deputy forest supervisors or employees in important positions in Washington.

“We wound up with 12 people to choose from, all of whom are qualified to do the job,” Mathes said. “Twelve is a plenty good enough pool to choose from, especially since all of them are qualified. It’s just a matter of finding the most qualified.

“The regional forester, Brad Powell, and his two deputy regional foresters did devote an unusual amount of personal attention to this selection, more so than for most forest supervisors because of the critical nature of what’s happening at Lake Tahoe, with congressional interest and interest by the administration, plus the nearly universal desire to keep Tahoe clear.”

TRPA received 110 applications for its slot. A community selection committee, made up of representatives from various Tahoe interest groups, is going to meet this week to start narrowing the list. A special committee of TRPA Governing Board members likely will further narrow the pool.

Interviews of the final three to five applicants will be held publicly before TRPA’s board in April or May.

Don Miner, Douglas County commissioner and vice chairman of TRPA’s governing board, said applications came from all over the country and the world, and there are several qualified people.

“After spending hours reviewing various applications, looking at specific criteria – such as professional management experience, experience with the environment, experience with project management, knowledge on personnel issues – on paper there are three I would hire tomorrow,” he said. “There are eight to 10, based on the interview process, that could be diamonds in the rough.

“I’m not concerned about us having to go out again and request applications. We’ve got a good selection to choose from.”

Juan Palma, who managed the Forest Service’s efforts at Tahoe for more than two years, left the position last year to work for the Bureau of Land Management in Oregon where he is closer to family. Jim Baetge, executive director for five years of Tahoe’s bistate regulatory authority, left TRPA in January for health reasons.

Both men were commended as they left for playing key roles in efforts to protect the environment at Tahoe and reverse the declining clarity of the famously blue lake.

The former No. 2 guys at both agencies have been working in the top position. Ed Gee is the acting forest supervisor of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit and Jerry Wells is the acting executive director at TRPA.

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