For the public – Gary Fildes |

For the public – Gary Fildes

Where I work: Forest Headquarters, Tahoe National Forest, Nevada City.

Job Title: Forest fuels management officer.

What I do in my job: Oversight responsibility for removing the underbrush, thinning small trees, and reducing the amount of dead vegetation on the ground to limit the chance of catastrophic wildfires in the Tahoe National Forest.

Why my job is important to the public: To reduce the chance of severe wildland fires burning in and adjacent to the Tahoe National Forest and threatening local communities while also improving the health of the forest and watersheds. Also, returning fire to its natural place in forest ecosystems.

The special skills and talents I bring to my job: Twenty-nine years of fire suppression and fuels management experience, training, and education.

The best part of my job is: When the Forest successfully completes the prescribed burning programs for the year, that will have an impact on the safety of local firefighters and the communities.

A season of work that I’ll always remember was: On the Los Padres National Forest near Gorman, being consistently threatened with bodily harm for enforcing the regulations as they applied to off-highway vehicles and campfires.

How I got my job: After sending out applications and graduating from college, I got a call from the Forest Service offering me a fire engine operator job near Covello, Calif. I had no idea where Covello was, but I accepted the job.

How long I’ve been working here: Twenty-nine years with the Forest Service, 24 years on the Tahoe National Forest.

My dream job would be: Having the right weather conditions so that I could initiate prescribed burns every day to reduce the fuels in the Forest.

My family: Daughter who graduated with honors from California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks and Mom in Fillmore, Calif.

My hobbies: Gardening, kayaking, working out at the gym, fishing, softball, and hiking.

When I was a kid: I grew up in a small farming and oil community – I wanted to be a professional baseball player.

My dream vacation: Traveling to out-of-the-way areas of the U.S.

If a movie were made of my life, I would be played by: Co-workers said either Ray Romano or Ben Affleck. (I was going to suggest Paul Newman because he is getting long in the tooth.)

The people who have made the biggest difference in my life: My parents, aunts and uncles.

My hero: My dad, who passed away in January.

The best book I’ve read lately was: “Flyboys” by James Brady because I am interested in war history.

I like living in Nevada County because: There are so many recreational and cultural events, and it is still somewhat rural.


“For the public” appears each Wednesday. To suggest a local civil servant to be profiled, contact Britt Retherford at or call 477-4247.

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