Woman named to head Forest Service in the basin | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Woman named to head Forest Service in the basin

Maribeth Gustafson, who has worked in key positions for the Lake Tahoe Basin and neighboring Humboldt-Toiyabe branches of the Forest Service, will be the next chief of the federal agency’s Tahoe unit.

The Forest Service announced Thursday that Gustafson, a 19-year veteran of the agency who recently was the acting deputy forest supervisor of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, will take the helm on May 21, succeeding Juan Palma.

She will be Tahoe’s first female forest supervisor.

“Along with her unusually good leadership skills, Maribeth Gustafson has exceptional strength in working with external groups, which is key to success at Lake Tahoe,” said Brad Powell, chief of the Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region. “I know that she will do a great job for the Forest Service and for the future of the lake.”

Gustafson, 44, has a bachelor of science in botany from San Diego State University. With the Forest Service, she has held positions in Southern California as a botanist, district resource manager and as a district ranger for the Cleveland National Forest.

In 1995 and 1996, she was an assistant forest supervisor for the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, the largest national forest in the contiguous United States and one that abuts the Tahoe Basin to the east.

Palma, the forest supervisor at Tahoe for 2 1/2 years, left late last summer to take a job for the Bureau of Land Management in Oregon. Ed Gee, Palma’s deputy forest supervisor, took over temporarily.

Gustafson, the assistant director of fire and aviation for the agency’s regional office, came to Tahoe last September to temporarily serve as Gee’s acting deputy forest supervisor and worked in that capacity for five months.

“It’s an honor to have the opportunity to work again in such an environmentally and culturally significant place as Lake Tahoe,” Gustafson said. “I have already gained some appreciation for the variety and complexity of the resource management issues and for the importance of the cooperative relationships around the lake. I am looking forward to working with employees of the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit, with Ed Gee and with our many partners as we pursue our common mission as environmental stewards at Lake Tahoe.”

Linda Massey, spokesman for the agency’s Tahoe unit, said the region’s employees are happy with the appointment.

“Everyone here is pleased,” she said. “We had a pleasant experience working with Maribeth. We know she has depth of experience, sensitivity and enthusiasm. All of those are going to be critical for someone in the position.”

The Forest Service manages nearly 80 percent of the land in the Tahoe Basin and plays an important role in the ongoing effort to save the declining transparency of the famously blue lake. The Forest Service said earlier that it was spending an unusually large amount of time in choosing the new supervisor because of the critical nature of what’s happening at Tahoe. Mike Dombeck, chief of the federal agency, made the final decision.

Gee will continue to serve as acting supervisor until Gustafson takes over.

Gustafson’s husband, Dan, also works for the Forest Service and is assigned to the Pacific Southwest Region’s law enforcement department as a special agent.

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