Ron Woychak became the regional fire management officer (FMO) for the California Desert District last year and is enjoying the challenges of this new position.
"We had a very busy year, last year, with no loss-time incidents, so things are working," says Ron. "Federal agencies have been working together for a long time, we just need to formalize our working relationships with the other agencies."
Ron divided the CDD into four fire management zones -- Palm Springs-El Centro, Ridgecrest (to includes Death Valley NP), Barstow and Joshua-Mojave-Needles. His biggest challenge has been to merge the BLM-CDD and National Park Service into an interagency fire program for the California desert region. Ron has been working on formalizing an interagency agreement, "So we play better in the sand box," he says.
For the past 12 years, Ron has worked on California incident management teams and currently is qualified as a deputy incident commander for a "Type II" incident team.
Ron graduated from Humboldt State University in 1975 with a degree in wildlife management. He went to work for the Cleveland National Forest where he spent 23 years in various positions on three different ranger districts. He began in fire and fuels management, eventually moving into the resources division as a district wildlife biologist. During that time, he stayed involved in the prescribed fire program developing burns for wildlife habitat improvement. Ron still enjoys the challenge of using prescribed fire as a tool for resource benefit and working with endangered species.
He moved over to the Bureau of Land Management in November 1999 in the newly created position as the fire management officer in the Palm Springs - South Coast Field Office. He worked on developing a fuels treatment program that protects communities in the wildland-urban interface.
Ron still lives in Escondido with his wife Debbie and commutes to the Desert District office in Moreno Valley. He has twin sons, Matt, who plays professional baseball in the minor leagues and Brett, who works as a fire fighter/EMT. Their daughter, Stacy, is in college.