Supervisor leaving Tahoe National Forest
Bringing a scientific mindset to his work supervising the Tahoe National Forest, Steve Eubanks has seen significant changes to federal forest management over his 37 years of service.
As the supervisor of the Tahoe National Forest the last nine years, Eubanks participated in the agency’s paradigm shift from timber-driven policies to an ecological approach, fighting for fuels reduction and pursuing scientific field study in the Truckee area.
Now ready to retire on Jan. 3, Eubanks looked back Monday on some of his accomplishments, and to the future of the nation’s public forests.
“For a lot of years, the Forest Service focused on commodity output [timber], but that shifted in the ’90s,” Eubanks said in a wide-ranging phone interview. “Timber is now more of a byproduct of our ecological approach.”
Eubanks said he was working for the Forest Service in Oregon, the epicenter for ecosystem management, when the federal agency’s forest management philosophy began to shift.
Once he moved to Tahoe National Forest, Eubanks said he was able to help establish Sagehen Experimental Forest north of Truckee as a place for scientific research.
“The designation puts a focus as a place of research for managing resources like water, wildlife, soil and the forests themselves,” Eubanks said.
Research at Sagehen has contributed to fuels-management techniques and a deeper understanding of water quality, he said.
“It was entirely Steve’s vision to get this done,” said Jeff Brown, station manager at Sagehen. “He recognized the power research can have in helping land managers do a better job.”
That scientific bent has been one of Eubanks’ greatest strengths, said Executive Director Perry Norris of the Truckee Donner Land Trust.
“He has been very interested in research and the sciences,” Norris said. “His contributions will ring for many generations in the Tahoe [National Forest].”
Eubanks said his work toward route designations for off-highway vehicles has also been a rewarding effort.
“Route designation is one of the more important and complex projects we’ve undertaken,” Eubanks said.
Norris said that Eubanks’ ability to manage different user groups has also benefited the area.
“He’s done a terrific job managing a very heavily used national forest,” Norris said.