Former Forest Supervisor Named Federal Land Manager of the Year

George Bain with Leslie Weldon, the National Forest System Deputy Chief, at the Federal Land Manager of the Year Award Ceremony.
Leslie Weldon, Deputy Chief of the National Forest System, with George Bain, Forest Supervisor of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests at the 2012 National Land Manager of the Year award ceremony in Washington, DC.

George Bain, former Forest Supervisor of the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests in Georgia, is the 2012 Federal Land Manager of the Year for the USDA Forest Service. He was honored October 11, 2012 at a national awards ceremony in Washington, D.C.

The Federal Land Manager of the Year award is given annually as part of the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Take Pride in America program, a nationwide partnership authorized by Congress to promote the appreciation and stewardship of our nation’s public lands. Bain is being honored for his contribution to our public lands and for his effort in engaging communities in creative and innovative ways.

Bain served as the Forest Supervisor in Georgia from November 2007 - November 2012, but recently accepted a new position as the Director of Recreation, Lands, Minerals, Heritage and Wilderness for the Forest Service in Missoula, Montana. 

George Bain explains concepts and principles of the collaborative trails process at a public meeting
George Bain speaking at a public meeting in Dalton, GA in February 2011 to introduce the collaborative approach to managing the trails in the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests.

During his five years as Forest Supervisor, Bain was the mainspring behind a progressive strategy to involve and engage a broad spectrum of partners, individuals and groups in the active stewardship of Georgia’s national forests.  He launched the first ever forest-wide collaborative effort to bring trail users together to help identify and maintain a diverse, quality trail system on a national forest.  In addition, he worked to build new and strengthen existing partnerships resulting in enhanced support for the mission of the Forest Service. In 2010, volunteer contributions in the national forests amounted to the equivalent of twenty-one full time employees assisting with trail maintenance, repair and construction.

More than 2.2 million people visit Georgia’s national forests every year, and most of them come to use the 850 miles of designated system trails offered there.  Through the launch of CoTrails—an innovative collaborative trails initiative—Bain and his staff created an opportunity to seek new ways to deal with the ever-increasing use of trails, public demand for more trails, limited agency resources to properly maintain existing trails, and potential competition among different trail users.

“It is inspiring to see the level of commitment from our partners and Forest staff to keep this collaborative process moving forward,” said Bain. “As a result, we are seeing more interest in our trails and more volunteers willing to give of themselves to keep these trails functioning as they should.”

George Bain as he participates in the 2012 National Public Lands Day on the Bartram Trail
George Bain as he participated in trail maintenance of the Bartram Trail near Warwoman Dell on National Public Lands Day, September 29, 2012.

Other collaborative efforts, including the Oconee Forest Health and Wildlife Habitat Improvement Plan (OFHWHIP), have engaged the public in forest management on a landscape scale. By identifying the scope of needs across the entire Oconee National Forest, Bain provided leadership in finding a creative approach to adequately address them.

Bain also strengthened volunteerism by partnering with organizations like the George Appalachian Trail Club, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Trout Unlimited, Georgia Forest Watch, and the Save Georgia’s Hemlocks. These partnerships have resulted in new structures and the restoration of historical structures, trail assessments, and improvement projects, and the preservation of Georgia’s hemlock trees.

For more information about the Take Pride in America awards, visit www.takepride.gov. To discover more about the Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests and the volunteer opportunities offered there, visit www.fs.usda.gov/conf.