The Oregon Department of Forestry has announced the selection of Tim Keith of La Grande as the new assistant state forester for the Forest Protection Division. He succeeds Charlie Stone, who recently accepted the position of special projects manager in the Protection from Fire Program.

State Forester Marvin Brown lauded Keith's selection, noting he "brings a wealth of experience to this position in his long career with the department and also the invaluable experience of being an incident commander for Fire Team 1."

Currently district forester of the Northeast Oregon District, Keith has served 10 years as an incident commander for the department's incident management teams. Made up of skilled firefighting personnel, the teams manage the suppression effort on large wildfires. His most notable assignment came in 2002 when his team was deployed to the Sheldon Ridge Fire. The wind-driven blaze swept through dry grass and brush to the outskirts of The Dalles, for several days posing a grave threat to the city.

As assistant state forester, Keith will oversee the Protection from Fire Program. Its main purpose is to protect 15.8 million acres of private and public forestland from wildfire. The total includes 3.5 million acres of wildland-urban interface, forestlands in which a quarter-million residences are at potential risk from fire.

"The forest protection program in Oregon enjoys a unique legacy in its partnership with forest landowners dating back to the turn of the century," he said. "That legacy is alive today, and I want to be a part of strengthening and enhancing the partnership."

He noted as well other key partners including the USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Office of State Fire Marshal and Oregon's rural fire districts.

Keith has served in a variety of jobs during his career with the department in locations throughout the state. He started as a Forester I in Coos Bay in 1974. From there his career track took him to field positions in the southwestern, central, northwestern and eastern regions. He expects his diverse experience, with an emphasis on fire protection, to be a boon in the new job.

"I have experience working as a field forester in State Forests, and as a stewardship forester in the Private and Community Forests Program in Fossil," he said. "My time spent as a district forester of three of the department's busiest fire districts has been invaluable to me in understanding the state's wildland fire protection system."

Keith's first item of business as Assistant State Forester will be the Fire Program Review begun late last year. Participants in the comprehensive examination of the program include several state legislators; forest products industry representatives; family

forestland owners; and local, state and federal fire agencies.

"I'm looking forwarding to working with department staff and our stakeholders to implement changes recommended by the fire review," he said.

Keith will work out of Department of Forestry headquarters in Salem. His starting date has not yet been determined.

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