After more than six months without a permanent replacement for former Los Padres National Forest Supervisor Bob Baird — who took a position as California Regional Fire Director at the Forest Service earlier this year — a new forest supervisor was announced this week. Kevin Elliott was selected to assume the role of forest supervisor for the Los Padres National Forest starting on January 22.
Elliott has a 37 year background working in the Forest Service, with positions in national forests in Utah, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. He has also specialized in legislative affairs in the Washington, D.C. headquarters for three years. He comes to the Los Padres from the Sequoia National Forest where he has served as forest supervisor since 2011.
The forest supervisor is the top line officer for a specific national forest. Some of the many duties of a forest supervisor include allocating budgets, coordinating activities between ranger districts, signing off on projects, issuing forest closure orders, and communicating with the regional forester. The forest supervisor position for our local national forest is incredibly important due to the forest’s size and complexity. The Los Padres National Forest is not only the second largest national forest within California, but it is unique compared to the state’s other national forests. It provides habitat for more threatened and endangered species (26 species) than any other forest in the state, features the only national forest coastline in California, and is the only forest that contains commercial quantities of oil and gas.
The Forest Service also recently announced that Tony Martinez will be assuming the role of district ranger for the Mt. Pinos Ranger District. Martinez fills the role that has been open since last year. He brings 28 years of Forest Service experience, 17 of which he has been working in the Los Padres.
The Mt. Pinos Ranger District in Ventura and Kern counties is one of the largest, and most ecologically and topographically diverse, ranger districts in the Los Padres National Forest. From the dry, rugged Chumash Badlands near Lockwood Valley to the 8,831 ft. Mt. Pinos — the highest point in the Los Padres — the Mt. Pinos Ranger District contains the Chumash Wilderness, portions of the Sespe and Dick Smith wilderness areas, and dozens of recreation sites. Many of the forest’s threatened and endangered species are found in this part of the Los Padres due to its unique intersection of mountainous ecoregions. Unfortunately, it faces many challenges: illegal off-road vehicle trespass, target shooting trash, drought-induced conifer mortality, and more.
We look forward to working with Forest Supervisor Kevin Elliott and District Ranger Tony Martinez to tackle the important issues facing the Los Padres National Forest. We plan to continue holding regular meetings with Forest Service staff and lend our expertise to developing projects that protect the Los Padres.