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USFS musical chairs takes Bradford to Missoula

by Brad Fuqua & Western News
| January 13, 2011 2:04 PM

photo

Maggie Pittman

Within the inner workings of the U.S.

Forest Service, it’s not real uncommon for employees to move around

during times of need.

Kootenai National Forest supervisor

Paul Bradford, for example, has gone on a few long-term assignments

himself. And he’s beginning this new year with a four-month stint

at the Northern Region office in Missoula as acting deputy regional

forester.

“I’ve done other details … I did a

detail in Michigan for four months and I once went to Southern

California for several months,” Bradford said. “It’s always

interesting to put on different shoes and see issues from different

points of view.”

Maggie Pittman, Idaho Panhandle deputy

forest supervisor, will take over for Bradford as acting supervisor

of Kootenai National Forest. Pittman, 53, has a Montana background

with both her secondary education and job experience.

Pittman’s past includes various

positions in the Northern Region, including Missoula District

ranger prior to taking the Idaho Panhandle job.

“I’m really pleased that Maggie will be

here filling in,” Bradford said.

Pittman arrives on the Kootenai during

a time when the new forest plan revision process hits full

stride.

“Right now, we’re in the final stages

of briefing up congressional folks and the Department of

Agriculture back in Washington, D.C.,” Bradford said about the

process. “Once we get that clearance … that’s when our folks will

start finalizing the publication of the draft.”

If everything runs on schedule,

Bradford believes the draft environmental impact statement could go

out in February.

Pittman does have experience with the

forest plan process – including working with the Missoula-area

community on a revision a few years ago.

“We’ll be connecting with our

communities,” Pittman said. “I look forward to being involved.

People are really energized up here – and that’s a good thing.”

The forest plan revision process will

include a 90-day comment period on the draft EIS. Like past

documents, alternatives will be presented, including the Forest

Service’s preferred action. Open house events will take place

throughout the planning zone.

Bradford believes a final plan could be

in place by the spring of 2012. The Kootenai is currently working

under 1982 rule procedures.

In response to a question posed by Tony

Berget at last week’s commissioners meeting, Bradford said the

preferred alternative will include some wilderness designation.

Commissioner Ron Downey expressed his opposition to any proposed

wilderness at this time.

“There will be an opportunity for

public review and comments on the draft EIS and preferred

alternative,” Bradford said. “The preferred alternative will look

very similar to what the proposed vision was going to be a couple

of years ago after we went through all of that process.”

The Forest Service arranged for the

Bradford and Pittman assignments after bringing Northern Region

Deputy Regional Forester Jane Cottrell to Washington, D.C., to

assist in the chief of staff’s office. Bradford anticipates a

return to his Libby office on May 9.