Kolarich promoted from district ranger to deputy forest supervisor

Clint Kolarich, who served as Wrangell's district ranger since June 2019, has moved to Ketchikan to work as one of the Tongass National Forest's two deputy forest supervisors. He officially stepped into the new job on Sept. 13.

District employee Austin O'Brien will step in as his interim replacement for the next 120 days.

In the Wrangell district, Kolarich was responsible for the management of the area's natural resources. "It's all the folks in the district that do the work," he said. "The district ranger is just there to support those folks."

During his four-and-a-half years as district ranger, his proudest accomplishments include helping clear the Roosevelt Harbor parking lot of derelict vehicles and collaborating with the Wrangell Cooperative Association to bring over $600,000 of grant funding to the community.

The accumulated cars at Roosevelt Harbor were among the first problems Kolarich heard about during his first weeks on the job in 2019. Identifying which cars were abandoned and which had owners was a multi-year effort that required robust community collaboration.

Of the 76 vehicles that the Forest Service cleared out, "not one person in Wrangell complained that their vehicle was removed," Kolarich said.

"I'm really proud of that," he continued. "The community came together with the Forest Service" to complete a project that the organization had been putting off for 30 years.

In his new position as deputy forest supervisor, he'll be playing a similar role but on a larger scale, overseeing resource management all 17 million acres of the Tongass National Forest. "I like the challenge," he said. "The Tongass is a very unique forest. It has a lot of challenges, but it also has tons of opportunities."

In his first few weeks in the role, he intends to spend most of his time listening to rangers from the forest's nine districts and learning about the issues each area is facing. He'll develop long-term goals later on, once he has a more complete understanding of each district's needs.

So far, the transition has been like "going from the dance floor to the balcony," he said. He'll get to build on his previous successes, share his knowledge with other districts and help them accomplish their projects. "It's just extrapolating out from that district ranger position to a wider area."

Kolarich's love for the outdoors began in his childhood, when he would hunt and fish with his dad. After his junior year of high school, he joined the Forest Service's Youth Conservation Corps and after graduation became a seasonal firefighter.

Fighting fires was the ultimate physical and mental challenge, he recalled, but after 10 years of intense exertion, his focus shifted toward building relationships with communities and implementing good land management practices.

The chance to spend time outside "got me into it," he said of his career, "but it's the people that keep me in it."


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