Tongass Ranger receives 2017 Tongass Collaborative Stewardship Group award

ANGOON, Alaska – Admiralty Island National Monument and Hoonah Ranger District Ranger Chad VanOrmer received the 2017 Tongass Collaborative Stewardship Group award, on February 8, 2017. The award was given at the Tongass Collaborative Stewardship Group Annual Meeting in Juneau for outstanding dedication to the collaborative stewardship of southeast Alaska’s lands, waters, wildlife and communities.

Chad was the unanimous choice of the nomination committee, due to his successful leadership efforts with the Hoonah Native Forest Partnership and Angoon crew. Chad VanOrmer Collaborative Stewardship Award 2

“The primary reason Chad was nominated for this award (by both fellow USFS staff and a range of partners) is his attitude,” said Sarah Campen, coordinator of the Tongass Collaborative Stewardship Group. “Chad’s attitude is always ‘we can find a solution to this problem.’ He treats partners like members of the same team, and sees the value that a diversity of partners bring to the table.”

Under Chad’s leadership, the Tongass National Forest became a core partner in the Hoonah Native Forest Partnership (HNFP), a science-based, landscape scale, community forest approach to watershed planning and project implementation. The partnership’s goal is to achieve a measurable and resilient blend of timber, salmon and deer production, local economic diversification and improved watershed health. The partnership includes 101,246 acres of National Forest System land.

“The Hoonah Native Partnership an all lands-all hands collaborative approach that seeks to reshape the working landscape around Hoonah,” said VanOrmer. “It is a demonstration of how the Forest Service is evolving the work it does in conserving natural resources and providing benefits to communities across multiple landowners and interest groups.” 

Chad’s problem-solving attitude also led to the rapid establishment of formal partnership agreements between USFS and the other HNFP partners, without which the HNFP couldn’t work on USFS lands. Partnerships like the Angoon Youth Trail Crew, a multi-season partnership between the Angoon tribe and the Forest Service. Despite his key role in building partnerships, VanOrmer insists he is just a small part of a big thing.

“I just connect the dots and look for money,” said VanOrmer. “The real work comes from the blended Forest Service and Angoon field crews who are learning to accomplish mutual goals together.”

The Tongass Collaborative Stewardship Group works to enhance ecological, social, and economic well-being in Southeast Alaska by supporting collaboration among practitioners of land management and resource stewardship.  Approximately 70 individuals from across Southeast participate, representing USFS staff and a wide range of partner agencies and organizations.

The annual Tongass Collaborative Stewardship Group award started two years ago. Greg Killinger was the first recipient of the award. It was given posthumously in 2015.


Angoon Youth Conservation Corps

(Left to Right) Tribal Liaison Donald Frank, Trail Crew Leader Aaron McCluskey, Youth Conservation Corps member Roger Williams and Admiralty Island National Monument Ranger Chad VanOrmer pause work to celebrate the agency’s successful Youth Conservation Corps partnership with the Angoon Tribe. Photo by Travis Mason Bushman, Tongass National Forest Partnerships & Public Affairs