Becki J. Heath has been named new supervisor of the 4.1-million-acre Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests, according to regional forester Linda Goodman.
Heath is current supervisor of the Gallatin National Forest in Montana. She will succeed James L. Boynton, who plans to retire at the end of July.
The assignment will be a homecoming for Heath, who served as Leavenworth District Ranger on the Wenatchee National Forest in the 1990s, according to a Forest Service announcement.
"Becki Heath will be a perfect fit for the Okanogan and Wenatchee National Forests," Goodman said. "She is a seasoned forest supervisor with a strong commitment to public service. She has extensive background in natural resource management and has shown superb leadership handling complex wildland fires."
"My husband and I are excited to be returning to central Washington," Heath said. "I am honored and humbled to be asked to serve as the Okanogan and Wenatchee Forests supervisor."
She said the forests have spectacular scenery and wonderful recreation opportunities, but also areas of over-crowded, dry forest that are susceptible to insects and wildfire.
"I'm looking forward to working with individuals and organizations that care very much how their national forests are managed," she said.
Heath is a career Forest Service employee who began working for the agency in 1977. She graduated from Oregon State University in 1976 with a bachelor of science degree in recreation and environmental education.
In 1979 she obtained a master of science degree in forest management from the University of Washington.
Her early years with the Forest Service were spent on the Mount Hood, Ochoco and Umatilla national forests in Oregon and included positions in timber management and silviculture, according to the announcement.
She served as Leavenworth District Ranger from 1990-99. While at Leavenworth, Heath gave special attention to watershed analysis and restoration, natural resource education, public involvement, recreation, and fire suppression, the announcement continued.
During the summer of 1994, Heath led district employees as they dealt with the Hatchery and Rat Creek fires that threatened Leavenworth and burned 18 homes in forested areas.
After 1994, she helped develop the Wenatchee forest's dry forest strategy, which uses thinning of overcrowded forest groves and prescribed fire to remove brush and woody debris that fuel wildfires.
In 1999 Heath moved from Leavenworth to Bend, Ore., to become deputy supervisor of the Deschutes National Forest. In 2001 she moved from Bend to Bozeman, Mont., as supervisor of the Gallatin National Forest.
During Heath's time in Montana, she was successful in opening and enhancing lines of communication with individuals and organizations, according to the announcement.
Her accomplishments include being instrumental in addressing issues relating to the Yellowstone ecosystem, the largest intact ecosystem in the lower 48 states, including de-listing of the Yellowstone grizzly bear.
She also finalized the forest's travel management plan, which addresses recreational uses on forest roads and trails. Heath was influential in the conservation of important species habitat through an aggressive land acquisition and exchange program, and in 2006 she lead the forest through an extreme fire season when more than 250,000 acres of national forest burned, according to the announcement.
Heath and her husband, Monty, have one son, Evan, 18. Monty Heath is a retired Forest Service recreation program manager.
Becki Heath will begin her new job in Wenatchee Aug. 6.
Boynton has been supervisor of the Okanogan and Wenatchee forests for three years, following an 18-year tour as supervisor of the Sierra National Forest in California. He and his wife, Pat, plan to continue living in the Wenatchee area, according to the announcement.