A tall order in Tahoe | SierraSun.com

A tall order in Tahoe

Laura Brown
Sun news service

Controversial environmental issues on the Tahoe National Forest don’t stop Tom Quinn from appearing relaxed and comfortable in his new Nevada City office.

Quinn, 53, began his tenure as forest supervisor last week, replacing Steve Eubanks. He already has started meeting with local environmental, timber and off-road vehicle groups.

“I’m a big proponent of working with communities. I like to think of national forests as the public’s lands. I want to work directly with them to make things happen,” Quinn said.

Quinn spoke with familiarity on issues ranging from the re-routing of OHV trails, logging forests to prepare for wildfire and making the best use of waning federal dollars.

Forging partnerships with timber industries is big on his to-do list. In Arizona, the timber industry all but disappeared and now the Forest Service is struggling to pay for vegetation management projects using limited public tax dollars. In San Bernardino, logs were taken to landfills because sawmills were no longer available to process them, Quinn said.

He wants to prevent such scenarios from occurring here.

“We have an important partnership with the timber industry. They need us as much as we need them,” Quinn said.

With federal support for recreation on the decline, all options need to be looked at to keep areas open, Quinn said.

“User fees need to be on the table,” Quinn said.

Quinn comes to the Tahoe from six years as forest supervisor for the Stanislaus National Forest, located on the backside of Yosemite.

The two Mother Lode territories share topographical similarities, mining history and foothill communities. Alpine recreation such as hiking, off-road riding and winter sports such as skiing and snowmobiling are mainstays of the two regions threaded by the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

Quinn, his wife and two sons are eager to explore the forest and hit the ski slopes, as soon as they find someplace to live. Quinn’s two boys have adapted to their father’s wanderlust spanning 27 years with the Forest Service.

“We have generally led a nomadic Forest Service lifestyle,” Quinn said.

They have roamed across six western states, from Washington’s rain soaked Olympic Peninsula to the dry climate of Tucson, Arizona.

Quinn has worked in Oregon, Idaho, Washington, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

“We like that kind of diversity. We love beautiful places and different cultures,” Quinn said.

No dramatic changes are planned, and Quinn will continue leading the forest much the way his predecessor did for the previous nine years. Eubanks retired in January.

“I have a lot of respect for Steve. I think this forest has done a lot of great work with him. I’m just looking forward to carrying that on.”