Kristen Lodge: Mike Ricketts Retires – ‘It has been fun and an honor to serve Grand County’
Grand County, CO Colorado
Mike Ricketts has worked for the U.S. Forest Service for 33 years. His last nine years have been in Grand County working as a Snow Ranger/Winter Sports Administrator on the Sulphur Ranger District of the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests.
The district received two District Of The Year Awards while he worked here, and he attributes that to all the people he has been fortunate to work with.
“I have been lucky to work in national forests where the beauty is unmatched anywhere, especially when it comes to wilderness areas. In my career I have been involved in six wilderness areas. Each one has been unique and special. Being able to visit special places like these is living the dream.”
Mike spent most of his career working in Oregon beginning with the Timber Program on the Rogue River National Forest; he was there for longer than 20 years.
He also fought fires and worked on special projects on the Mount Hood National Forest at Mount Hood Meadows Ski Resort. After coming to Colorado his primary job was to administer the special use permit issued to Winter Park Resort.
Mike has worked on several major projects including the bark beetle epidemic and Winter Park Resort.
“The bark beetle projects and projects completed at the ski area have been challenging but I always enjoyed the work,” he said. “The highlight of working with Winter Park Resort has been the people and projects. Getting the Panoramic Lift built with all the ski trail development was pretty interesting, and I think the bike park became more of an asset than expected.
“Trail building is still evolving but I think Winter Park Resort has been a leader in conservation and environmental stewardship as exemplified by their many Golden Eagle awards,” he added. “Working on projects that have lasting value for generations to come can be daunting, but the satisfaction and accomplishment of completing them is the reward.”
He says the highlight of his time in Oregon was meeting his wife, Gina and having two boys, Jordan and Ian. Jordan graduated from Middle Park High School in 2007 and is now a graduate of Northern Arizona University. He works on a Hotshot Fire Crew based out of Platte Canyon. His youngest son Ian is enrolled as a freshmen at Redmond High School in Oregon.
As for retirement, Mike and Gina have decided to move back to Oregon because of family and friends. Gina now teaches at Central Oregon Community College in Bend. Mike plans on being a soccer dad and house husband, while working on their new hobby farm and skiing at Mt. Bachelor.
Mike officially retires on Sept. 30.
“It will be hard to leave a job where you can meet such great people, have so much fun, and get paid for it. That is truly living the dream. I have made great relationships through this job with many of those relationships becoming friendships that I will treasure forever.
“I have enjoyed learning from and associating with a lot of great people. The U.S. Forest Service introduced me to my wife, we were on a fire crew together, and provided for my family. I will be forever grateful. The Forest Service also allowed me to see and work in many great places and follow my passion for the outdoors and skiing.
“The most important thing of all, though, has been my faith. Early on in my career a good friend told me to feed all aspects of life, the mental, physical, and spiritual. I thank God for my career and all those folks who contributed to the great memories I will carry from Grand County: Winter Park Resort, Winding River Resort, Winter Park Chamber, Lions Club, Full Curl Outfitters, Aspen Canyon Ranch, Bar Lazy J, C Lazy U, NSCD, Winter Park Christian Church, Grand Huts Association, Grand Adventures, Trailblazer Tours, Grand County Wilderness Group, Williams Peak Ranch and the Towns of Fraser and Winter Park. It has been fun and an honor to serve you.”
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