Kovarik named Paulina District ranger

PRINEVILLE, Ore. - The Ochoco National Forest announced Monday that Johanna Kovarik will serve as district ranger for the Paulina Ranger District, which covers the eastern half of the forest from Big Summit Prairie to the South Fork of the John Day River.

Kovarik has served in an acting role on the District since March, in the district ranger position formerly held by Gary Asbridge.

"We're excited to have Johanna on our staff, and we look forward to her work on the district and in community," said Forest Supervisor Shane Jeffries. "Johanna has a diverse work history that will serve her well, and a track record of successfully engaging partners, employees and the public to promote public lands stewardship."

Kovarik brings 16 years of US Forest Service work experience that spans from the ranger district level to the national office, serving at duty locations in Thorne Bay, Alaska; Orofino, Idaho; Lakewood, Colorado; and Washington D.C.

Prior to her arrival at the Ochoco National Forest, Kovarik served for 8 years as a Forest Service National Program Manager for Minerals and Geology Management, where she earned national and international recognition for her work around the nation, and in foreign countries with US Forest Service International Programs. At that position, Kovarik worked across the agency to conserve caves and karst areas on National Forest System lands, and collaboratively steward these resources in partnership with local communities and elected officials.

Kovarik holds a PhD in Environmental Science and Policy from the University of South Florida, a Master's Degree in Geoscience from Western Kentucky University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western Michigan University. She looks forward to moving to Prineville with husband Steve following their marriage in late August of this year.

"I am honored to serve on such a beautiful ranger district with so many great partners and exciting projects underway," Kovarik said. "I've grown very attached to the people and the landscapes of Central Oregon during my time here, and I look forward to getting to know them better in the coming years."

The Paulina Ranger District office employs approximately 20 permanent and 25 temporary employees and administers approximately 225,000 acres of publicly-owned land. The District administers three fee campgrounds, numerous dispersed camping sites, several special use permits, grazing permits, 40 miles of recreation trails, the Black Canyon and Bridge Creek Wildernesses, and an active watershed and stream restoration program.

The Paulina Ranger District was named for Chief Paulina, a member of the Walapi (Paiute) Indian Tribe. The District is located in the eastern portion of the Ochoco National Forest, within the Crooked River and South Fork John Day watersheds. Elevations range from approximately 3,500 feet to 7,000 feet and cover vegetative types that range from sagebrush to subalpine fire. Ponderosa pine types cover about two-thirds of the District and mixed conifer forest the remaining third. Residents and visitors enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities in the area, including hunting, fishing, swimming, horseback riding, hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and wildlife photography. 

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