Forest recreation association awards ranger of the year

The Sun-Gazette

National Forest Recreation Association selected Michael Morse as 2020 Ranger of the Year

WOODLAKE – With luscious forest all around the Valley there are untold numbers of rangers who take special care to conserve it. Each year the National Forest Recreation Association selects just one ranger to award Ranger of the Year. For 2020 that ranger is Michael Morse.

“I am honored and humbled to have been selected for this recognition,” Morse said.

The NFRA announced that Morse would receive the award last month. Morse is the co-director of the Region 5 Pack Stock Center of Excellence; a special uses permit administrator; and the wilderness and trails supervisor on the Mammoth Ranger District, Inyo National Forest.

“He is a man of many talents and highly deserving of this award,” the NFRA press release stated.

Morse’s nomination came with a compelling letter from the Regional Forester of the Pacific Southwest Region, Randy Moore.

“I’m delighted to send this letter supporting Michael Morse’s nomination for ‘Ranger of the Year.’ His work exemplifies the spirit of collaboration and shared stewardship that are the pillars of the National Forest Recreation Association,” stated Moore. “Michael understands the important role of partners and working together to meet shared stewardship goals… Through these partnerships, the Forest Service has been able to accomplish more than we ever could on our own.”

Morse has had more than a 40-year career with the Forest Service. He was one of the primary proponents of the Region 5 Pack Stock Center of Excellence which has partnered with organizations like the Backcountry Horsemen of California, American Conservation Experience, Student Conservation Association, CCC’s and others to accomplish trail projects, bridges, and equestrian campgrounds on Forests throughout California.

The program provides support to fire crews in wilderness areas, packing in food, tools, equipment and more. Such traditional means of fighting fires has earned Michael’s team, along with the hardworking firefighters they serve, entries to the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena (in 2015 and 2019). Michael’s program has established a model for preserving and continuing the historic and traditional skills of packing. Innovative approaches include an internship program to teach and train college age youth to learn about packing, and caring for stock in the mountains.

Other projects include classes to educate other Forest (and Bureau of Land Management) employees on the skills of stock and packing in Wilderness, like the original rangers of the early 20th century.

According to NFRA’s press release, Morse has always been committed to providing a well maintained trail system for the public, including those who use pack and saddle stock. He has been effective in finding ways to accomplish trail maintenance even when budgets have been tight.

NFRA’s ‘Ranger of the Year’ Award has been presented annually since 1982 to individuals who show personal dedication in the realm of recreation management, and exhibit a true sense of partnership with recreation service providers.

“We want to recognize those employees who understand the important role of partners, and who show exemplary efforts to work together,” states NFRA President Warren Meyer. “We are continually amazed at how much it means to our honorees to receive this recognition, and it is a highlight of our Conference.”

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