New leader takes over the Ochoco
Shane Jeffries remembers much of his childhood taking place in the woods.
Growing up in McCall, Idaho, a small town about 100 miles north of Boise, he would take trips with his family to gather firewood or spend time fishing and hunting.
"That part of Idaho is surrounded by national forests," he said. "I don't know anything different than being outside and being in the woods."
Jeffries was recently named the Ochoco National Forest Supervisor, taking over for Stacey Forson, who recently retired. Pacific Northwest Regional Forester Jim Peña notes that Jeffries brings a wealth of experience to the Ochoco National Forest and the Crooked River National Grassland. He has served as Deputy Forest Supervisor on the Deschutes National Forest since 2012 and has held other leadership positions, including District Ranger on the Deschutes and Payette National Forests from 2005 through 2012.
Jeffries also comes to Prineville with prior experience as a wildlife biologist at the district and forest level in Regions 4, 5 and 6, and he served as Acting Forest Supervisor on the Ochoco National Forest in 2013 and on Idaho Panhandle National Forests in 2016.
"It is my pleasure to welcome Shane as the new Ochoco National Forest Supervisor," Peña said. "During Shane's many years of experience as a line officer in the Pacific Northwest, and with his years of residence in Central Oregon, he has developed strong relationships and a deep understanding of Forest Service programs there that make him an ideal candidate to lead the Forest and Grassland."
Jeffries, who is married with four adult children, says McCall was very much a Forest Service town. He points out that the Payette National Forest headquarters are located there as are two ranger districts and a smoke jumper base.
However, his grandfather was the only family member who worked for the Forest Service, so he spent his first days of employment in high school on an alfalfa ranch. It wasn't until his senior year that he considered a job that served as the entry point to his future career.
"I went to high school with some kids of people who worked for the Forest Service," he recalls. "One of those people contacted me."
Jeffries took a seasonal job with the Forest Service that year and early on saw a potential future with the agency. He attended University of Idaho and continued to work whenever he could for the Forest Service. After graduating with a Bachelor's of Science in Wildlife Resources, he accepted a full-time job with the Forest Service and has been with them a total of 30 years.
Jeffries began his new job this past Monday. Because he has worked for both the Deschutes and Ochoco National Forest, two agencies he notes work closely together, he is familiar with much of the local staff.
"I am less familiar with the place, and that is something I am excited to do, to recreate and walk around and get connected to the Maurys and the Ochocos," he said. "One of the priorities over the next month or two is to spend time one on one with (rangers and staff) getting to know … the challenges in front of us."
In addition, Jeffries wants to expand his outreach to community members and visit with local leaders about forest-related issues.
"To me, being a forest supervisor is an honor and a privilege," he said. "I feel like there is a lot to learn, and I am excited to do that."