After devoting 35 years of his life to forestry, John Jahnke has been named the new Colorado state forester where one of his top goals is to protect life and property in a state that is no stranger to wildfires.
"My hope is to continue on with the legacy and make the Colorado State Forest Service as successful as it has been in the past," Jahnke said.
With his new job as Colorado state forester, Jahnke is responsible for managing Colorado's forest ecosystems from disease, insects and fires, among other things. He will also act as director for the division of forestry, an arm of the department of natural resources at CSU.
Under this title, Jahnke will oversee 135 full-time employees, 17 field officers and manage forest fire prevention programs, which train about 450 volunteer fire departments statewide.
Jahnke moved from Alaska where he previously served as the Alaska state forester for eight years and will be working at the forest service's headquarters at CSU.
Only on the job for 13 days, Jahnke said his main goals are to keep Colorado's forests healthy and to manage forest fire prevention.
"A focus is the protection of life and property from wildfires," Jahnke said.
Marc Johnson, CSU's vice provost for agriculture and outreach, oversees the fire agency. Johnson hired Jahnke, saying he was the clear candidate for the job, despite other applicants.
"Jeff has the experience in state forestry systems, plus with issues relevant to Colorado, such as wildfires," Johnson said.
Russell George, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, said Jahnke will need dedication and cooperation from several Colorado agencies in managing Colorado's forests.
"I know that Jeff is up to the challenge of managing our forests and participating in this cooperative effort. I look forward to working with him," George said.
The Colorado State Forest Service has been part of Colorado and CSU for 50 years and is now located at a new facility on the Foothills Campus. According to Johnson, Colorado is one of five states where the state forest service is associated directly with land grant institutions such as CSU.
"We are the only forest service in the West attached to a land grant institute," Johnson said.
Johnson said Jahnke is the successor of former state foresters Jim Hubbard and Tom Borden, who are highly acclaimed in the forestry field.
"Jahnke has a breadth of experience," Johnson said.
Jahnke received his bachelor's degree in forestry from Michigan Technological University and a master's degree in forest and range management from Washington State University.
He also acts as the chair of the National Association of State Foresters' Forest Fire Protection Committee and is involved in the Western Forestry Leadership Coalition.