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National Forest Service awards honor two Tongass employees


KETCHIKAN, Alaska–Two Ketchikan Forest Service employees are being nationally recognized for their outstanding contributions to protect and restore fisheries and watershed resources on the Tongass National Forest. The prestigious Rise to the Future Awards are the highest national recognition for watershed resources accomplishment that the Forest Service grants.

Dennis Landwehr receives the Field Soil Scientist award. Landwehr is recognized for his sustained personal and professional excellence and the notable contribution he has made to the Soil and Watershed Programs of the Tongass National Forest, the largest national forest in the nation. His accomplishments in integrated inventory and monitoring, restoration, and timber planning enhances the Forest Service’s multiple use mission and provide a foundation for the credibility and success of the transition from old-growth to young-growth forest management. Dennis has been a soil scientist on the Tongass National Forest since 1988.

“Dennis is the forest expert on soils, floodplain and wetland topics for routine as well as unusual questions,” said Regional Watershed and Air Program Manager John Lane. “His co-workers appreciate his work ethic and good nature in providing technical support.” Dennis has also been an integral part of a landslide working group by assisting community, state, and federal entities better understand landslide dynamics.

“I am humbled by this award,” said Landwehr. “I work with a lot of professional people that have pushed and helped me along the way. I am pleased to be recognized for over 20 years of soil quality monitoring on the forest. It is my pleasure to help answer technical soil, wetland, and landslide questions on the Tongass.”

Ron Medel receives a Life-Time Achievement acknowledgment for his professional excellence in fish management. Medel is recognized for sustained high performance fostering technically sound fish/aquatic resource management and innovative approaches with lasting impact in on aquatic resource management, monitoring, and mentoring.

“Ron has been a great catalyst for the fisheries program on the Tongass and in the Alaska Region for the past 28 years,” said Regional Fisheries Program Manager Don Martin “Much of the success of the program is due to Ron’s abilities to organize, communicate, and maintain a creative vision of public needs and political and fiscal opportunities. Ron’s personality and communication skills result in a motivated work force even during times of change and difficult fiscal realities.”

“It’s no secret that our forest fisheries resources are a highly valued and important part of the economy, the communities, and the lifestyles,” said Medel. “Where else would you want to work if you are a forest service fish biologist? Add to that the great number of folks I’ve been honored and fortunate to work with over these many years, in this incredible landscape, and it’s understandable why I’ve stayed as long as I have.” 

The awards will be presented later this year in Washington, D.C.

Dennis Landwehr initiated the inventory and statistical analysis of landslide data resulting in improved understanding of landslide frequency and occurrence in Southeast Alaska and the effectiveness of methods to minimize landslides associated with road construction and timber harvest. His efforts have directly contributed to current standards and guidelines for management of unstable terrain and project-level analysis of landslide risk across the Forest.

Ron Medel is a recognized expert and spokesman for the Tongass fisheries resource. He is often the sought after contact for information concerning all aspects of the fisheries resources on the Tongass by partners, communities, politicians, and the general public.


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