What is a Public Domain Forester?

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Forester measuring a tree in winter!
Jim Gates Wind River/Big Horn Basin
District Forester

Public domain (PD) foresters are the ultimate generalists in forestry.

Unlike the BLM forestry staffs in western Oregon or with the Forest Service, PD foresters do not specialize in any particular function in forestry, but need competency in all aspects of forestry from planning to implementation.

In Wyoming, there are currently three field-level foresters and a BLM state forester to manage the 1.3 million acres of BLM Wyoming forests and woodlands.

BLM foresters are located in the Kemmerer Field Office, the Worland Field Office and Casper Field Office. The state forester also handles the Newcastle Field Office. 

Public domain: 
Public domain is a term used to describe lands that were not under private or state ownership during the 18th and 19th centuries in the United States as the country was expanding. These lands were obtained from the 
13 original colonies, from Native American tribes, or from purchases from other countries. Public domain was controlled by the federal government and sold to state and private interests through the authority of the General Land Office. For most of the nation's early history, the government sought to promote settlement of the expanding frontier by selling off the public domain after it had been acquired. The authority for this came under laws such as the Homestead Act, the Timber and Stone Act, and the Morrill Act. The Bureau of Land Management assumed responsibilities for managing the public domain lands when it was formed in 1946 through a consolidation of the General Land Office and the U.S. Grazing Service.

Some of the primary duties for Public Domain Foresters include the following:

    1. Close interaction with wildlife biologists, fuels specialists and other vegetation management specialists in developing and implementing integrated forestry, vegetation management, wildlife habitat, and fuels projects.
    2. Staff specialist for forests and woodlands.
    3. Project specific environmental analyses (NEPA).
    4. Forest and woodland inventories.
    5. Determination of easement and cadastral survey needs for forestry projects.
    6. Developing silvicultural prescriptions.
    7. Development of forestry and woodland sections for land use plans.
    8. Development of forest plans/annual forest product sales plans.
    9. Development of budget project submissions.
    10. Responsible for timber trespass issues – documentation, notification, assessment of trespass for illegal taking of BLM forest and vegetative resources.
    11. Project design.
    12. Project layout.
    13. Temporary road locations and standards for forest product sales.
    14. Unit layout, marking and cruising.
    15. Appraisal development for timber sales as well as special forest products.
    16. Responsible for the management and administration the sales of Special Forest Products (SFP). This includes firewood, Christmas trees and native seed as well as many other vegetative products.
    17. Development of forest product sale prospectuses for advertised sales.
    18. Negotiating forest product sales (negotiated contracts).
    19. Assists the Field Manager in forest product sale awards and all paperwork/documentation of sales.
    20. Serve as the sale administrator on all vegetative materials sales insuring all aspects of the contracts are met.
    21. Administering timber sale contracts.
    22. Responsible for post-sale activities such as tree planting, slash disposal, and road closures.
    23. Administering service contracts (pre-commercial thinning, forest inventory, etc.).
    24. Administering stewardship contracts.
    25. Monitoring and evaluation of all forest and woodland projects for effectiveness.
    26. Database management of forestry programs including TSIS (product sales), FORVIS (inventory), SCID (stewardship contracting).
    27. Responsible for working with Collections and Billings personnel to ensure that all receipts from the sale of forest products are deposited into the appropriate accounts and that performance bonds and/or payments are appropriately put into the suspense accounts and moved into deposits when terms of timber and vegetative materials sale contracts are met.
    28. Responsible for outreach to forest product industry to determine need and type of products offered and to work with new contractors to develop local economy and markets.
    29. Work with or develop community partnerships where available and feasible.