Headwaters Forest Reserve Manager
Arcata Field Office
Chris Heppe has been with the BLM for only a few months and already he has a monumental (pun intended) task of planning the 10th anniversary celebration of the Headwaters Forest Reserve acquisition. Probably not the task he signed on for, but one he has embraced enthusiastically in his new position as the Headwaters Forest Reserve manager.
Chris grew up in Nevada City in the Sierra Foothills. He graduated from UC Davis in 1987 with a degree in biological sciences. After school, he put his education to good use in the Peace Corps in Paraguay, implementing agro-forestry projects in small villages with farmers adjacent to to a national park. It was due to this involvement that he became interested in natural resources and watershed management.
After the Peace Corps, he worked on fishing boats in Alaska, monitoring the amount of fish caught. Then he worked for the U.S. Forest Service where he says he "Hooted for spotted owls in the Tahoe National Forest," as part of an effort to count the size and extent of the spotted owl population. He went on to work for the Environmental Protection Agency for eleven years, mostly on water quality and watershed protection programs. He was in San Francisco for five years and six years in Arcata, where he was the natural resources program manager for the Redwood National and State Parks on watershed restoration projects, stream monitoring and erosion prevention programs.
Great experience to apply at the Headwaters Forest Reserve. In cooperation with a local non-profit organization, Chris and staff are rehabilitating disturbed land by removing abandoned logging roads built before the Reserve was acquired. The old roads are failing and delivering sediment into the sensitive streams that provide salmon habitat.
They are conducting ecological and archaeological studies in the Reserve including monitoring spotted owl and marbled murrelets, stream conditions, redwood forest characteristics, historic and pre-historic sites.
Chris is also overseeing the finishing touches to the Headwaters Education Center, which will house interpretive exhibits in a historic, rustic train barn resurrected from the abandoned timber town of Falk.
Despite his vast work experience, he says his greatest accomplishment (and ongoing quest) is becoming a good dad and husband to his daughter and son and wife, Sheila. They enjoy family activities -- camping, hiking, road trips, and various sports. He also enjoys coaching and playing basketball, having a cold beer with friends and drinking yerba mate (a highly caffeinated tea from South America) on Saturday mornings. (That must be what gives him all the energy for all the other activities). Chris and family live in McKinleyville.