Tonasket District welcomes new forest ranger

TONASKET – The Tonasket Ranger District has welcomed the new ranger, Dale Olson, to the area.

Olson, with 23 years of working for the U.S. Forest Service, has moved to Tonasket from Donnelley, Idaho, where he lived, and New Meadows, Idaho, where he worked.

“Both of those towns were smaller than Tonasket,” Olson said. “It’s warmer here and the forest service people are all really nice, I haven’t met a bad one yet.”

Olson said he took the job here in Tonasket because it matched both his professional and personal goals.

“Tonasket caught my eye because it’s a small town with a warmer climate and I have a couple of small kids I want to raise in a small town,” he said. “This district is a great district with a lot going on and a lot of different programs. I’m finding rapidly that I have a great staff and I’m looking forward to doing good for the district.”

As the new district ranger, Olson will oversee the Tonasket Ranger District, which goes north to Canada, east to Ferry County, south to the Colville Indian Reservation and west to where the district borders with the Methow Ranger District, Public Affairs Specialist Shannon O’Brien said.

Olson said the district operates in many of the levels of keeping a forest safe.

“We do a lot of things: we manage fire, we do mineral extraction management, we do vegetation management with harvesting trees and fuels, we do recreational management and develop hiking trails, we manage 40 allotments of range area, we work with noxious weeds and we have Fish and Wildlife folks to help manage the fish and wildlife,” Olson said.

Olson said this district is a little different than the one he worked at in Idaho, stating there wasn’t any mining in his old district.

“Where I came from, we had threatened fish and we don’t have that here but we do have threatened wildlife,” Olson said. “The trees are the same, though, so that helps me out because I already know about them.”

Olson said he started working for the forest service when he was in high school because his typing teacher’s husband worked for the forest service and she said it’d be a good idea for him to apply.

“Working seasonally is a great way to get started with the forest service and get experience outdoors,” Olson said. “I kept working with the forest service because I liked it. It’s a great place to work and I worked in a lot of different positions, so I had variety. After college, I got on full-time and I had a great job. It was fun. The days go by fast and the years have gone by fast because it’s a pretty good job.”

He said he’s going to wait and see how working in the Tonasket District goes but that he’s got a feeling he will be in the area for a while, since he wants to raise his children, six-year-old Tait and four-year-old Elizabeth, in a small town with his wife, Karen.

“The family is not here yet, but the movers are coming up in early August,” Olson said, adding that he’s looking forward to spending time here.

The public is invited to an open house to meet Olson at the Tonasket Ranger District on Thursday, Aug. 5 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.