OLYMPIA – Yesterday, at the request of the Tonasket U.S. Forest Service Ranger District, a DNR Wildfire pilot and three crew members conducted a mission to retrieve a U.S. Forest Service-affiliated individual in the national forest who reported that she felt threatened by wolves and had taken refuge in a tree.
DNR helicopter pilot Devin Gooch – “Gooch” as he’s commonly known to his colleagues – and his crew reached the individual’s location within 14 minutes of leaving the DNR base in Omak, WA. Reaching this remote location on foot would have taken an estimated 2 to 3 hours.
“I’m incredibly proud of my team – they are tremendous assets to our communities. Their willingness to step forward when it’s the right thing to do knows no bounds,” said Hilary Franz, Commissioner of Public Lands. “Pilot Devin Gooch – a veteran – truly exemplifies what it means to serve our public.”
DNR wildfire helicopters are not typically used for this purpose – they are specialized aircraft designed for wildland firefighting. However, given the proximity to the site and the unknown circumstances, DNR leadership felt justified in taking this action.
DNR completed this mission with the support of both the Washington state Department of Fish and Wildlife and U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife.