Wednesday, April 20, 2011



I have been writing this blog for just over a year now.  So perhaps it is time to introduce myself and talk a little about the blog.  As noted, I am a retired professional Forester.  I have worked for private industry and all the major federal natural resource agencies with the exception of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

One of my complaints while working was the poor job that most agencies do in sharing information with the public.  I remember proposing to redo the reception area so that the public would have access to aerial photographs, topographic maps, and all the other resources available to the agency professionals.  We also proposed a coffee pot where the public can linger and get answers to their questions.  Well, that idea did not go very far.  Fortunately, these days with Google earth and the USGS on-line Store everybody now has access to aerial photographs and topographic maps in their home.   My blog is focused on helping you use these resources to explore your public lands.

Well, my story starts in Valencia, Venezuela where my earliest memory is dragging a small cardboard box on a string and looking up at the snow capped Andes.  We lived on the outskirts of town and our toys were very simple, but there were plenty of "natural" places to explore close to the house.  I started liking wild places.  If your interested in the transition from immigrant to a unhyphenated American click here.

Even when we immigrated to Paterson, New Jersey a couple of blocks away was a park and school.  Half the park was left in weeds and covered with wild vegetation.  That was my playground.  We moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 1960's.  Now my parents were not outdoors people.  So my exploration of the outdoors was limited to friends and areas close to home.

However, when I went to junior college (due to my outstanding C average in high school) I got a car to drive to school.  My first class, Calculus, resulted in my dropping Astronomy as a major and my guidance counselor suggested Forestry as a major.  So I said sure, though it meant that I would take calculus as a sophomore not a freshman.  There was a hiking club on campus and with the car I spent the winter months exploring the Sierra foothills, Pt. Reyes, and the Ventana Wilderness south of Montery.

After completing  my science, economics, statistics, math, and general education requirements I transferred to UC Berkeley to enter the professional Forestry school in my junior year.  The California National Guard was there to greet me and they pretty much stayed there until I graduated.  It was a wonderful education.  More or less a liberal arts degree in the natural sciences, with economics and sociology thrown into the mix.  Somebody once said that Forestry was one of the few professional that coupled the challenge and beauty of the outdoors with the rigors of a profession.  For a choice that I made simply because I had to chose a major it was one of the best decisions of my life.

I worked summers for the Forest Service in Idaho and California and then went to graduate school at the University of British Columbia.   Canada and I were not a good fit.  I found a professional job with a consulting firm in the San Francisco Bay Area and for two years traveled throughout northern California working on timber sales, inventories, and completing a map of every last Sequoia tree in Sequoia National Park south of the Mineral King Road.  It was a great time.

I quit the job to go back to graduate school, but this time at UC Berkeley.  Not bad for a C student in high school.  Most of my high school teachers refuse to believe that I even attended college!!

During graduate school I took a job with the National Park Service to determine the recreation carrying capacity of Lake Mohave.  It was on this job that I spent most of my time talking to recreationists on Lake Mohave.  I learned a lot from talking to folks using the lake.

A pernament job offer came from the Forest Service while I was working for the Park Service.  So I moved to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho to work for the Idaho Panhandle National Forests.  Now this was important for another reason since on my first day at work I met my wife.  Thanks, to the federal personnel papers I can always remember the date and time I first me her.  You can read the story of our first date in this blog entry.  I wrote the St. Joe Wild and Scenic River Management Plan and the Forest Service wanted me to move to Avery, Idaho to implement the plan.  Their reasoning was that Avery was NOT a place for a married man, so since I was single I could live there!!

Well, I decided to stay in Coeur d'Alene instead and took a job with the BLM.  I enjoyed working for the BLM, but since Susie had transferred to the Okanogan National Forest we were now separated by 200 miles.  Well, the Forest Service just had two new jobs on the Colville National Forest.  One for an Economist and another for Public Affairs Specialist.  Now that was a bad career move, since it took 16 years to get a job where I was not tied to a desk.

In July, 1997 I took the Recreation, Wilderness and Trails Program Manager job on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests.  I finally escaped the 100% desk job.   It was a great job, but there is one job that is even better and that is retirement.

With retirement I can finally do ANYTHING I want to do.  So maybe I cannot get that reception area complete with aerial photographs, maps, and a coffee pot.  Through this blog I can get you information on using aerial photographs, maps and public resources.  You will need to provide your own coffee.

I look at this blog as a job.  That is the reason for the Google ads and the Amazon referrals.  You can help support the blog by clicking on the ads that interest you and making your Amazon purchases by entering Amazon by clicking through on of the ads on the blogs.   Thanks.

We are almost through our round of spring-time doctors visits and are ready to hit the road once again in the fifth wheel.  Our plan for this summer is Montana.  Great people, great mountains, and great grasslands.


giantspeckledchihuahua said...

As a new follower,it's great to read about your experience, family and how far life has taken you. sounds like the American Dream is still alive and well. I like that!

My experience as a Federal employee (now retired) leads me to believe that with holding information is a priority! I've yet to see anything to believe otherwise.

I love yor blog, too. It's awesome of you to take time out of your retirement to share your knowledge!

hobopals said...

What a great real-life story! I use Amazon quite a bit and from now on will enter my account through your site. Thanks for've had a great life--as they say, "When you have a job you love, you never work a day in your life."

Bobbie and Salvatore said...

I found your blog by accident about two months ago and have been following ever since! Thanks for all you do for it and all the great info!

I am a retired park ranger from So. Calif. and my husband and I are full-time RVers that travel and work seasonal jobs to supplement the early retirement funds.

Thanks again for all the info and sharing!! LOVE IT!

Jim and Sandie said...

Can I say welcome to MT before you get there? We won't be back there until June but plan to spend most of the summer up there so Jim can go fishing. I love reading your blog even though I am definitely not an outdoors person. I've really learned a lot from you - thank you.


Jim Melvin said...

I took a class from you at the 2007 Life on Wheels conference and have been following you ever since. I am looking forward to you trip to Montana.

Thanks for the great post about your background.

Vladimir Steblina said...

Thanks to everybody for their comments.

I do enjoy doing the blog.

Linda said...

Count me as another one who appreciates your blog.

Vladimir Steblina said...

Bobbie, did you have a red card??

I kept mine. Doing one or two fires a summer does really help supplement the retirement.