Sulphur District Ranger Craig Magwire retires | SkyHiNews.com

Sulphur District Ranger Craig Magwire retires

Reid Armstrong

Craig Magwire

The U.S. Forest Service's Sulphur Ranger District is saying goodbye to its longtime District Ranger Craig Magwire. Magwire retired on April 30 after 38 years of service with the federal government. He was the 27th and longest-serving in a line of Sulphur District Rangers, having spent 15 years at its helm.

Magwire's job involved working closely with the towns of Winter Park, Fraser, Grand Lake and Granby as well as Grand County, the local Chambers of Commerce chambers, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Rocky Mountain National Park and numerous volunteer partner organizations.

Magwire started his career in 1978 with the Bureau of Land Management in Oregon. Prior to moving to the Sulphur Ranger District in the spring of 2001, he managed recreation for the Gunnison Ranger District. Magwire bridged the divide between a time when rural district rangers roamed on horseback, managing vast swaths of public lands nearly alone, to a time when rangers have laptops and cell phones and manage large staffs. What may have appealed to Magwire as a job in a sleepy little corner of the Western slope didn't quite work out that way. Magwire's tenure in Grand County was marked by the mountain pine beetle epidemic; the acquisition and expansion of Winter Park Ski Area by Intrawest; and negotiations with Denver Water regarding the expansion of Gross Reservoir.

Shortly after Magwire's arrival in Grand County in 2001, the mountain pine beetle began its needle-reddening sweep across the landscape. While the community went through the stages of mourning over the death of a million trees, Magwire led the district staff in an effort to salvage as many of those trees for timber as possible while they still had value. He then turned the district's focus to treating areas along the wildland urban interface where towns shared a boundary with the national forest, creating defensible space. The third wave of the response effort included removing hazardous trees along roads, campground, powerlines and other high use areas.

“When I look back over the last 15 years, it’s not the stuff we had to deal with but the people we worked with that I remember best. This district has a dedicated, hard-working, committed staff. They care a lot about taking care of the National Forest. That’s the highlight for me.”Craig Magwire

During all this, Magwire says the most important challenge was "to implement these projects and address the safety hazards while keeping the forest open for business." The mountain pine beetle epidemic, he added, is "an event that affected and will continue to affect our work in the decades to come."

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"We have been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with Craig over the years," said Gary Defrange, president of Winter Park Resort. "His leadership skills and professionalism have given him the ability to deal with very complicated issues and make it look easy. He has truly been someone who added value to everything he was involved in."

"As a District Ranger, Craig had a great sense of serving the community and fulfilling the Forest Service mission," said Catherine Ross, Director of the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce. "Craig is, and always has been, open minded to new ideas and ways of doing things. We made great advances on the ground and in operations serving the public during his tenure."

Through the challenges he faced in his career here, Magwire said it was the support of the community that made the job great.

"Grand County has been a great place to work – a place with supportive cooperators, engaged with the National Forest," he said. "I've been appreciative of the partnership we've had with Grand County, particularly the commissioners and Road and Bridge."

Magwire also commended the Forest Service family, his coworkers and staff, for making his career memorable.

"When I look back over the last 15 years, it's not the stuff we had to deal with but the people we worked with that I remember best," he said. "This district has a dedicated, hard-working, committed staff. They care a lot about taking care of the National Forest. That's the highlight for me."

Magwire and his wife Wendy, who still works as a biologist for the Forest Service, plan to stay in Grand County. Magwire says he's looking forward to enjoying all the things Grand County has to offer, things he was often too busy to enjoy while he worked.

Jonny Fryer will serve as Sulphur's acting district ranger until a replacement is appointed. Jonny is a natural resource specialist with the Calcasieu Ranger District of the Kisatchie National Forest located in Louisiana.

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