Meet the new ranger
Schramm glad to be in northern Arizona
The job is a dream come true for Martie Schramm, new ranger for the Williams district of the Kaibab National Forest. Having worked in a variety of forests and in a number of challenging positions in the Forest Service, Schramm said she set her sights on becoming a ranger roughly five years ago. But learning the new position in Williams has been something of a whirlwind education for the new ranger.
"I feel like my head has been spinning and on some days I feel like it might explode. The district ranger position has been a goal of mine for, at least, five years now and it's everything I have wanted and what I do want. Even though I go through those periods where I feel like I'm overwhelmed, I'm really enjoying it."
Schramm has a degree in forestry from Southern Illinois University, with an emphasis in outdoor recreation. Her career started in California, where she worked in the Mendocino National Forest, followed by a stint in the Sierra National Forest. She's also spent some time working for the Forest Service in Montana and Michigan, where she is originally from. She has recently closed on a house in Williams.
"Once I got back to Michigan I realized that my heart was really in the west. I have a brother and sister that live in the Phoenix area," Schramm said.
It was her family in the valley that brought Schramm to the area of northern Arizona, as she said they would typically make trips to the area from Phoenix when she visited them.
"I had always made the comment that I would move to northern Arizona in a heartbeat and, when this opportunity arose to apply for it, I did - not thinking I would have much of a chance of getting the job."
She added that she was "thrilled, excited and shocked" when the offer came in.
"My first week here I had the opportunity meet other folks on the forest, I spent a few days on our leadership team meeting, which was a quick introduction to the team members as well as some of the issues that are facing the forest. I have also been working on some permit issues with some of our permittees and just helping out other employees that actually oversee those permits, with our prescribed burns that are going on - I'm working on those. And then of course Travel Management and getting up to speed on where we are with Travel Management issues."
Schramm will most likely make her way to various Williams' organizations in the near future in order to introduce herself, and to speak about various issues currently on tap for the Forest Service - such as the often thorny Travel Management Rule.
"This is my third forest in dealing with Travel Management," Schramm said. "And I will say that issues tend to be the same on all the forests. We are not shutting the forest down to the users, but we do need to make sure that we're doing what's right for the resources out there."
Schramm said a tentative March 2008 target date has been set aside to complete the Travel Management Rule Process. Forest Service officials are currently nearing completion of the proposed action plan for the forest roads. Schramm said she expects the action to be available for review by the middle of October.
"For our proposed action, honestly, I feel really good with what we're proposing," Schramm said. "We're looking at coming out with a proposed action by maybe mid to late October. From what I've seen with the work that has been done, I'm feeling very good about it. We seem to have solid rationale as to why a road may be closed."
"One of the things we kept hearing from the public is that we don't want it to be some general reason, like for wildlife concerns, we want to know why this particular road, why there are concerns. For instance, instead of saying 'wildlife concerns' it will say 'antelope fawning area.' I think that's one of the things we kept hearing from people over and over is we don't want it to be general, we want to know why," said Jackie Denk, Public Information Officer for the Kaibab National Forest. "There will be roads that are proposed for closure, but I still think that, in general, people are going to be very pleased with the number of roads that are left open."
"Some level of game retrieval will be authorized within the proposed action," Denk said. "People shouldn't be expecting small game to be included in that, so we're talking big game. We are talking specifically motorized big game retrieval. There is a whole separate program for disabled hunters called the CHAMP program and they're allowed to do motorized travel to pick up game."
Hunters, Denk added, have also expressed a favorable interest in shutting down cross-country travel within the forest, leaving motorized vehicles to use the already established forest roads. Officials with the Forest Service paid a visit recently to the Arizona Elks Society Seminar in Phoenix.
"One of the things that the cross-country travel does is chase off the animals or interfere with the hunt," Denk said. "One of the things that we've tried to emphasize to the public is what Travel Management is - stopping cross-country travel."
Public meetings are planned through both the Forest Service and the Citizen's for Forest Roads Input (CFRI) to invite public participation and comments on the proposed action plan when it is released.
"The proposed action isn't the end," Denk said. "The proposed action really is the beginning in a lot of ways."
The Coconino National Forest recently completed their proposed action plan and is currently in the public review and comment process. No final decision has been made regarding Travel Management in the Coconino County Forest as of yet, Denk said. She said some road closures in the neighboring forest have led forest users to call the Kaibab National Forest and enquire about the status of the Coconino National Forest.
"A road may be closed because of wet, muddy conditions (and) a road may be closed as part of a project, like an old timber road - there's a variety of things that can lead to a forest road being closed," Denk said.
Permitted activities, such as woodcutting, she added, would be exempt from the Travel Management Rule. Changes to the rule can also be made even after the finalization process as well, as yearly updates will be possible. Denk said the public would be notified each year to inform them of prospective changes to the Travel Management Rule and subsequent forest road maps.