Forest Ranger Mark Morris retires from 40-year career

Mark Morris, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest Ranger for the Tonasket District since 2000, retires this week after a career spanning four decades with the U.S. Forest Service.Forest Ranger Mark Morris retires from 40-year career. USFS photo

Mark Morris, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest Ranger for the Tonasket District since 2000, retires this week after a career spanning four decades with the U.S. Forest Service.Forest Ranger Mark Morris retires from 40-year career. USFS photo

TONASKET – Mark Morris, wraps-up a career of more than 40 years with the U.S. Forest Service this week, including the last decade as Tonasket’s District Ranger. He said his new to-do list is pretty long and includes spending more time on horseback in the Pasayten Wilderness.

His career with the agency has taken him from Lake Tahoe, Calif. to Tonasket – with several stops along the way. Those who have worked with him indicated he will be missed, but they wish him the best.

“Having district rangers like Mark makes the forest supervisor’s job easier,” said Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest Supervisor Becki Heath. “He’s experienced, and has a long history with the Forest Service and this forest in particular. We, as a forest, will miss his leadership and wish him well in all of his news adventures as a retiree.”

One of the things he’ll miss most is the employees.

“Being a Ranger was a dream come true for me; serving as Ranger at Tonasket just made it that much better. The employees here are terrific,” Morris said. “They’re passionate about the work they do and willing to pitch in together to accomplish the mission.”

A lot was accomplished during Morris’ decade as Ranger. The District spans almost 400,000 acres and with his oversight they implemented many projects to improve forest health. He helped compete for more than a million dollars in grants for restoration, education and recreation projects as well as overseeing thousands of acres of fuel treatment work that took place near private land. The District also accomplished several recreation and trail projects over the last decade. He credits the collaborative efforts of Forest Service employees, interest groups and individuals for the many successes.

“I’ve enjoyed serving as an ambassador for the Forest Service. It has given me a chance to engage with people in caring for this nation’s forests; to listen to concerns and find solutions that help restore healthy ecosystem processes to the landscape,” said Morris.

Dale Swedberg, manager of the Washington State’s Sinlehekin wildlife area said, “Mark is outstanding in his ability to engage all stakeholders and bring them to the table to discuss or debate issues and get things done. I have enjoyed working in coordinating management of lands on a landscape scale where borders adjoin.”

Morris’ time with the US Forest Service began when he was a child, growing up as the son of a Forest Service employee, living in the Baldwin Guard Station at Lake Tahoe.

“The National Forest was my playground and primary education facility during my formative years,” he said.

His career with the Forest Service began at 19. Then, after earning his Masters degree in 1974, he accepted a position as the administrative officer for the Waldport Ranger District in Oregon. During the

intervening years he worked for the Forest Service in California, Oregon and Washington. Morris came to Tonasket as Ranger in 2000.

“As I leave the job of Ranger I know that the Tonasket District is in better condition than when I arrived and will continue to be in a better condition for some years to come. That’s a good feeling,” he said.

Dale Olson, most recently from New Meadows Idaho, is excited to be joining the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest as the new Tonasket District Ranger on July 19.

“I’m looking forward to meeting folks in the community and getting to know the Forest and surrounding area,” said Olson.

A party celebrating Morris’ Forest Service career is planned for July 10. For more information, please contact Carol Ogilvie at (509) 486-2186.

About Shannon O'Brien

Shannon O'Brien is a U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman for the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest

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