Faces of the Forest Service

Meet Liv K. Fetterman

January 4th, 2017 at 4:00PM

Liv grew up in Philadelphia and attended a Quaker high school that empowered her to find her passion at a young age. There she discovered that she wanted to be an archaeologist. To achieve her dream, Liv double majored in archaeology and art history at Boston University. During her studies she discovered an interesting intersection of law and archaeology.

After graduation Liv moved west to pursue archeology jobs and after witnessing disparate ideas and treatment by the law of cultural heritage, she chose to attend law school. During law school she focused on cultural property issues and the international black market in antiquities. Liv’s passion for cultural heritage and dedication to law led her to work for the U.S. Forest Service.

Liv hiding out in a rock shelter on a survey during a thunderstorm on the Allegany National Forest (Photo Credit: Fetterman family photos.)
Liv hiding out in a rock shelter on a survey during a thunderstorm on the Allegany National Forest (Photo Credit: Fetterman family photos.)

What do you do for the FS?

I’m the Grasslands Archeologist, Heritage Program Manager, Tribal Relations Program Manager, and acting Recreation Program Manager. I conduct the cultural resources inventories for proposed projects on the Sheyenne National Grasslands, the Grand River and Cedar River National Grasslands. I oversee the heritage program compliance for the Little Missouri National Grasslands and am the primary point of contact for the North Dakota and South Dakota State Historic Preservation Offices. I work closely with Tribal Historic Preservation Officers on the Northern Plains to inform and seek input regarding our proposed federal undertakings.


What led you to the FS?

After law school I followed the wisdom of a retired U.S. Forest Service deputy regional forester and concurrently applied to a Master of the Arts program in cultural heritage and the USFS Student Career Experience Program. The Dakota Prairie Grasslands hired me in 2010.

Most importantly, I was lucky to grow up in a family that supported my passion by planning family vacations to foster and diversify my exposure to archaeological sites all over the world. The opportunity to affect our public lands heritage management and connect our Tribal Nations and publics to the public lands through heritage drives my passion.


What was it about grasslands the led you to work for the Forest Service?

Liv on the job, or to be more exact, in the field. (Photo Credit: Fetterman family photos.)
Liv on the job, or to be more exact, in the field. (Photo Credit: Fetterman family photos.)

The Great Plains grasslands boast some of the most remarkable culture and cultural heritage resources, from paleoindian archaeological sites to recent immigrant populations homesteading and making use of the land, to contemporary use of plants and landforms for traditional cultural practices. Heritage-wise, the Dakota Prairie Grasslands is broad and diverse.


What do you see in the future for your program?

I hope to see a healthy, integrated heritage program that routinely engages and collaborates with our tribal partners to meet mutually beneficial cultural resource needs and management.

I want to make a difference throughout the Forest Service and improve our public lands. Environmentally, the grasslands ecosystems are unique and at risk and the work conducted here is tremendously impactful. The mineral development and range issues on the Dakota Prairie Grasslands, in conjunction with opportunities to work together with our Great Plains Tribal Nations, provide both my cultural heritage and legal background the opportunity to grow.

The Dakota Prairie Grasslands have thousands of acres of National Forest System lands that fall within American Indian reservation boundaries, which presents rather unique legal opportunities to collaborate with our tribal partners to meet the requirement of the laws of the United States Government and Tribal Nations.


Justin and Liv Fetterman. (Photo Credit: Fetterman family photos.)
Justin and Liv Fetterman. (Photo Credit: Fetterman family photos.)

What do you like to do on your free time?

I spend as much time outdoors as possible. I enjoy hiking with my pets, running, backpacking, rock climbing, and gardening. During the cold North Dakota winters, I enjoy reading, painting, cooking, and ice spearfishing.


What is it about the FS that you like most?

I love working outside and talking with people about cultural heritage resources and convening people over common values, such as cultural heritage.


What would you share with new comers in your field or the FS in general?

This agency provides an overwhelming breadth of opportunity to contribute to the greater good through a self-discovered, or Forest Service-fostered, passion and skill that, can be tremendously rewarding.