Meet a Forester, John Phipps

Meet a Forester, John Phipps

This month, we are pleased to feature Western Forestry Leadership Coalition (WFLC) Member, John Phipps, Station Director for the USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station.

What was your first position in the field of forestry?

I started with the Forest Service 41 years ago as an Operations Research Analyst processing forest inventory statistics in the Pacific Northwest Region.

How long have you been in your role?

I have been with the RMRS Station Director for 2 years.

What do you enjoy most about being a WFLC member?

I enjoy the membership, the people, and that we work together to secure a more desirable future for all lands across the west – it is very rewarding.

What do you see to be the emerging issues in your region?

What stands out to me is convergence of issues like climate change and socio-political interests on top of the major stressor of wildland fire. We need to reconsider the paradigm for managing risk and to begin incentivizing prevention over reaction. We are working to gain public and partner support to end the war on wildfire – to instead manage it in low-risk fire-adapted ecosystems, which then reduces the exposure of our firefighters. This transformation combined with the pursuit of cross-boundary all lands approaches is very challenging and rewarding. We have a comprehensive land management mission and fire continues to impact the ability to deliver on all aspects of that mission. Thinking about how science can inform the restoration of forests and grasslands, the ability to use systems thinking and experimental design on the landscape – to put ourselves on a positive future trajectory at the bioregion scale – that is exciting to think about. Ultimately, we want to create a desirable future that supports all aspects of our mission and our partner’s missions.

What is your favorite outdoor activity?

Exploring things close to home– hiking in the wildlands, climbing, skiing – really anything that allows me to be outside.