FOR THE PUBLIC: Jerry Westfall, Grass Valley
What I do in my job: Forest silviculturist and contracting officer of timber sales for Tahoe National Forest. I am responsible for seeing that healthy trees grow in the forest. This involves collecting pine cones for their seeds, replanting tree seedlings, reducing brush competition, and thinning the forest. During the fire season, I am the air attack officer on a fire team. In simple terms, this means I am the air traffic controller over a fire, directing the aerial resources and watching out for the firefighters on the ground.
Why my job is important to the public: To have healthy trees, forests and ecosystems.
The special skills and talents I bring to my job: My professional forestry knowledge and my ability to work with both the public and contractors enables me to understand their points of view, apply forestry principles, and determine a course of action.
The best part of my job is: A day in the woods is better than any day in the office. And I enjoy talking with the public to help them understand what is really happening in the forest, and that what they hear from the media or other sources does not always tell the entire story.
The part of my job that I like the least is: Seeing the forest resources destroyed by wildfires and epidemics. There is so much more that could be done to restore the forest, but the amount of controversy and lack of money and time do not allow us to solve all of the problems as quickly as we or others would like.
A day of work that I’ll always remember was: There have been so many days with such beautiful scenery and neat experiences, that I don’t know where to begin.
How I got my job: In 1970, I applied to the Civil Service Roster and was selected as one of five new foresters to work in California that year for the Forest Service.
How long I’ve been working here: Thirty-three years with the Forest Service, 24 years on Tahoe National Forest.
My dream job would be: Being able to apply my professional expertise without the excessive amount of controversy concerning forest management.
My family: Wife, Elaine, of 31 years, an aide at Nevada County’s 3R-School; daughters Sally, second-grade teacher in Antelope, and Erin, an analyst for the city of Stockton.
My hobbies: Officiating Little League and high school baseball for the past 27 years, and junior high and high school basketball for the past 15 years; playing as much golf as possible at my son-in-law’s golf course; and building model railroad buildings for friends.
When I was a kid, I … wanted to be a forest ranger and work in the woods. But did I get fooled with so much paperwork and meetings to go to.
If money were no object I would… Retire and play golf every day and donate to more worthy causes than I’m now able to.
My dream vacation: Traveling with the high school choir to Europe – three trips so far – and not having to chaperone.
If a movie were made of my life, I would be played by: Tom Hanks, because of his versatility.
The people who have made the biggest difference in my life: My wife. It sounds like a cliche, but it is true.
My hero: I don’t have any heroes, just a lot of good friends that I admire.
The best book I’ve read lately was (and tell us why): Any Tom Clancy or Clive Cussler books because of the action that they portray.
The soundtrack to my life would include these songs: “Take Me Out To the Ball Game.”
I like living in Nevada County because… it is still small enough to know many people on the streets by their first name.
“For the public” appears each Wednesday. To suggest a person to be profiled, call The Union newsroom at 273-9561.
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