Last week, Kevin Warner stepped into his new role as District Ranger for the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District of the White River National Forest. He started his career working in the district and has previously served as its acting director.
Below are some highlights from his interview with Aspen Public Radio.
What do you love about this district and about this area that brought you back?
There's the landscape obviously. The landscape itself is just absolutely amazing. And then really the people. The communities that you work in here are are different than you'd see in a lot of other places.
The connection with the people, the fact that they're really willing to invest their time, energy and, in some instances, money into helping manage the national forest. It's just something you don't always get, and so that's a big part of the connection to to this ranger district here. And it was the first place I worked, so that was helpful as well.
Does this area stand out to you as a place where people make protecting wilderness place a particularly high priority?
Absolutely. I've worked in a couple other places and that attitude is definitely different in other places. You go to the grocery store after work, and you're still wearing your uniform, and people say thank you for the work you do. You don't get that everywhere.
What are some things that people might not expect that are a part of your job?
One thing that's interesting about the job here is that when you're the district ranger, in the end, your responsibility is anything that happens within that 750,000 acres, so whether that's a clogged toilet to whatever else. In some way, shape or form, you're responsible for that.
Some people might not think about it in that way, but it's important to make sure that you're supporting your staff and everybody else to make sure that those things that the public relies on are there for them.
Do you have a favorite spot in your jurisdiction?
Not that I'm going to tell anybody about! No, I definitely do.
I spent a lot of time in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, and so it's a real special place for me. And that Four Pass Loop -- obviously I'm not giving away any secrets. It’s just such an amazing place to visit and a backpacking trip to go on. Beautiful back there, just amazing scenery.
Do you have anything you would want to say to people who are coming and visiting this section of national forest?
It's great. We want everybody to come and enjoy the national forest. And while you're here, take a second to relax and truly enjoy it and soak it up and soak it in. We can all get kind of wrapped up into the rat race and everything else, and trying to take that Instagram photo or whatever it happens to be. Take the chance to disconnect a little bit and enjoy the national forest for just what's around you. That would be my recommendation to folks, for sure.