Change of leadership at Lincoln District
By Moosetrack Megan

Posted: February 23, 2019

LINCOLN, MONT., February 20, 2019—Beginning this week, there will be some temporary leadership changes at the Lincoln Ranger District. Current Lincoln District Ranger Michael Stansberry will be taking a temporary assignment—also known as a “detail”—as the Forest Supervisor for the Rio Grande National Forest in Colorado. In Stansberry’s absence, Jarel Kurtz, who is currently the Lincoln District Fire Management Officer (FMO), will detail into the Lincoln District Ranger position. To fill behind Kurtz, Fred Thompson, who is regularly the Superintendent of the Helena Interagency Hotshot Crew, will serve as the Lincoln District FMO. All of these individuals will serve in their respective details for 120 days.


“I know that each of these individuals have the experience, knowledge, and leadership skills to be successful in their upcoming details,” Helena-Lewis and Clark Forest Supervisor Bill Avey said. “Although we will miss Michael during his detail on the Rio Grande, I believe that Jarel and Fred—along with the entire District—will serve the community and the forest well in the interim. Both Jarel and Fred have strong backgrounds in fuels and fire management, which will help us prepare the District and community for project implementation and wildfire season.”


Kurtz has served as the Lincoln District FMO since July, 2014. In this position, he manages the fire and fuels program that includes emergency wildfire response and suppression across the District and adjacent land jurisdictions; leads fuels project planning and implementation projects, including multiple prescribed fires each year; and supervises 26 of permanent and seasonal firefighters on the District. Prior to becoming the District FMO, Kurtz served as the District Assistant FMO for over seven years, after spending 10 years in various roles within the fire management program.


“I’m looking forward to serving the Lincoln District and community in this new role,” Kurtz said. “Having worked on several Forest Service districts throughout the West, I have seen how the District Ranger plays a unique role in partnering with communities to meet the mission of the Forest Service while providing unique recreation, natural resource protection, and economic opportunities.”


While Kurtz serves as the Lincoln District Ranger, Thompson will step-in as the Lincoln District FMO. In this role, Thompson will assume all of the responsibilities of the FMO, and will work in conjunction with the District’s fire staff to maintain smooth operations within the fire and fuels program. Currently, Thompson is the Superintendent of the Helena Interagency Hotshot Crew (IHC), and has been in this role for 12 years. The Helena IHC is composed of 20 experienced firefighters who are dispatched to some of the most complex large fire incidents across the country. Superintendent, Thompson is responsible for training, supervising, and leading that 20-person crew. Prior to his Superintendent position, Thompson served as IHC Superintendent on the Tonto NF as well as serving in multiple Assistant Fire Management Officer details.


“I’ve worked on many incidents in and around Lincoln, and have worked with many people on the District and in the community over the years,” Thompson said. “I am excited to be joining a strong, familiar team serving the community of Lincoln.”


While Kurtz and Thompson serve in their respective details in Lincoln, Stansberry will be working out of  Monte Vista, Colorado as the Forest Supervisor on the Rio Grande National Forest. In that capacity, he will coordinate a large interagency fire organization, working with district rangers across the Rio Grande on recreation, lands, and vegetation management projects, and running day-to-day operations of the Forest.


These leadership changes are slated to begin this week and continue through mid-June; all of these details will last for about four months

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