Melany Glossa assumed the role of forest supervisor for the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest (BDNF) on Dec. 1, 2013. The previous supervisor, Dave Myers, spent three years at BDNF before moving to the Shasta Trinity National Forest in Redding, Calif.
Glossa’s role mainly focuses on situations that unite all the forest districts as forest-wide issues. According to Glossa, the public’s immediate contact is the district rangers in each specific area of the forest.
“I work with the things that rise up above district issues,” Glossa explained.
Glossa’s infatuation with the mountains motivated her to move back west and accept the role as forest supervisor of Montana’s largest national forest—approximately 3 million acres—after a stint in Indiana at Hoosier National Park.
Originally from a small Indiana town outside Chicago, Glossa received her undergraduate degree in forestry with a minor in wildlife biology from Purdue before traveling to Oregon State to complete her masters in forestry.
After graduation, Glossa headed back to the Midwest and worked in Missouri—eventually becoming a game warden for the state. Then, it was back to school. Glossa attended Colorado State in Fort Collins, Colo., for PhD work.
“Ever since I graduated from Purdue I wanted to work for the forest service,” Glossa said. “In the back of my mind it was always there as something I would want.”
When a position opened up in the White River National Forest in Colorado, Glossa jumped on the opportunity. Glossa’s next move was to Idaho, where she worked with the Nez Perce National Forest (now the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest).
“Those forests gave me lots of varied experiences,” Glossa said. “The White River is all about recreation, with 11 renowned ski resorts—big programs… at the Nez, the focus was really around fuel and fire issues.”
Before heading back to Indiana and working for Hoosier National Park, Glossa worked in Oregon at the Willamette National Forest as a district ranger. Now, she is a recent Montana transplant, working out of Dillon.
“Though I was raised in the Midwest, I did most of my career in the west,” she said. “There is something about the mountains that makes me breathe easier… I was excited to come here and get my cross-country skis out again.”
Glossa has a husband, three kids and a couple dogs still in Indiana. The plan is for them to join her in Montana after school lets out in May.
Madison County Commissioner Dave Schulz chairs a Beaverhead-Deerlodge working group, which is made up of about 12 people who joined forces to help the forest service address projects to better manage the forest. According to Schulz, Glossa is “motivated and energetic.”
“My first impression is that she will do great things,” Schulz said. “She is the top person in management of all the affairs of the forest, which is five or six districts, including the Ennis district.”
Glossa believes this is an exciting time to work for the BDNF. The service’s recent forest plan was completed in 2009.
“While 2009 sounds like a long time ago, when you consider how we have to work through all the issues and implement the plan, it is very recent,” Glossa said. “We have a great plan right now that is helping us make the best decisions.”
The plan serves as a guideline for what the service wants the forest to look like in the future. It breaks the issues the forest faces into zones, so the service can focus on a single zone at a time and develop projects based on that, according to Glossa.
Glossa cited endangered species as one issue the forest will have to deal with in the immediate future.
“From the sage grouse to the Yellowstone grizzlies, it’s an exciting time to be on the forest and see where we can go from here.”