New district ranger brings wealth of experience to job

Ken Coffin

Ken Coffin
Ken Coffin
MEEKER I Ken Coffin has been in Meeker for a couple of months now, settling in to a new town and a new job. Coffin replaced Glenn Adams as the Blanco District Ranger for the U.S. Forest Service. Adams is now the Rifle District Ranger.
Coffin and his wife, J.T., relocated from Alaska, where they have lived since 2000.
Coffin is originally from Montana, and is a graduate of Montana State University. He began his natural resource career as a seasonal fire fighters with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
After being graduated with a master’s degree in fish and wildlife management in 1994, Coffin worked as a seasonal wildlife biologist, covering such varied activities as hanta virus research, black-footed ferret re-introduction, and forest carnivore research.
From 1997 to 2000, Coffin was involved in research on brucellosis — a contagious disease that affects bison and elk — in the greater Yellowstone region.
The Coffins accepted positions with the U.S. Forest Service in 2000 on the Tongass National Forest.
“I worked a great deal with young growth forest management to improve them for wildlife habitat while concurrently trying to find ways to utilize the by-products from thinning treatments for biomass and/or small diameter wood products. This was a challenge given the remote nature of the Tongass and the loss of local capacity to harvest and utilize wood products in communities that could help the Forest Service manage these young forests,” Coffin said.
Asked how he ended up in Meeker, Coffin said, “I had rich personal and professional experiences in Alaska, but had a desire to live and work in another region and gain different experiences in managing natural resources on another National Forest. I ended up in Meeker because the district ranger job was vacant and I wanted to live in Colorado! My great-great-grandpa homesteaded in the Longmont area after the CiviI War with his children and grandchildren settling between Denver and Fort Collins. I have always been intrigued by this family history and have had a desire to live in Colorado because of it.”
Coffin’s role as the Blanco District Ranger gives him oversight of activities such as livestock grazing, outfitting and guiding, recreation and wilderness management.
“Having been on the district now for about three months, I am really impressed with the level of activity on the district especially livestock grazing and hunting and what those activities provide for in the community. I think it is impressive that the Blanco Ranger District can provide so much in terms of commodity production and yet still offer first class recreational opportunities,” he said.
He’s pleased with what he has found thus far at the Blanco Ranger District. “Luckily, I have inherited a great staff that have developed very good working relationships with a variety of people within the local community and have a “get it done” reputation on the forest. So, I want to ensure we maintain and enhance relationships within the community and on the forest, including those we have established with the Ute Tribe. I also want to ensure we continue to do a good job with our ‘normal’ annually occurring workload, including trail maintenance, grazing and outfit-ter/guide permit administration and wilderness management.”
Perhaps because of his work in Alaska with forest management, Coffin has a vision for short and long-term goals for the landscape of the Blanco Ranger District.
“It is important to me to get people engaged in the business of managing public lands. So, we need to work with forest users and, where it makes sense, develop partnerships with interested private landowners, non-governmental organizations and other state and federal agencies to identify needs and opportunities. Then identify the tools (prescribed fire, mechanical fuel reduction, timber harvest, livestock grazing etc…) that will help us achieve desired future conditions on the landscape.”
For example, the current interest in woody biomass (using the trees and woody plants, including limbs, tops, needles, leaves, and other woody parts that are the by-products of forest management) for conversion to biofuels and other products, should be addressed differently than it has in the past.
“Instead of saying, ‘we need to produce a timber sale with 5 million board feet’ we are saying, ‘here is the landscape we are working with and the treatments we have prescribed to meet the stated wildlife habitat and forest health goals will result in X board feet or X tons of woody biomass.’”
Coffin also wants to assist with wildlife population management and recovery, such as the Colorado River cutthroat trout, and boreal toads and leopard frogs.