Kathy Mattson (Senior Resource Forester)


It’s safe to say, Kathy Mattson’s job is never boring! “Even after 31 years in the profession there are always new challenges and assignments to keep things interesting,” she says, “and so many great reasons to work in Idaho’s woods.”

Proud recipient of the Society of American Foresters’ 2008 Field Forester of the Year award for the Inland Empire Section, Mattson began her career in the U.S. Forest Service, where for 7 years, she helped to manage public forests. Here, the camaraderie of the employees, the discovery of pristine landscapes, and the excitement of fire assignments across the West created treasured memories.

“One of my most amazing experiences was being flown into the Bob Marshall Wilderness area to fight wildfires. I received commendations for my work supervising a crew under very challenging conditions,” recalls Mattson

Today, she works for Potlatch Forest Holdings in Deary, Idaho as a Senior Resource Forester and is in charge of half of their Palouse District.

“Foresters manage woodlands for many different reasons and part of my job is to make sure that the decisions I make are good for our investors as well as the forest,” explains Mattson.

“New technology is constantly changing our practices, from better logging equipment to GPS mapping and improved silvicultural regimes. It’s been exciting to watch the evolution of processes that help us manage resources with greater efficiency while maintaining stewardship standards.”

Mattson supervises other foresters and manages an annual harvest program of 55 million board feet. In the spring of 2008, she coordinated Potlatch’s 5 million seedling planting program in Idaho. “It was a tremendous effort on the part of many people and it’s a very good feeling to see the high survival and initial growth rates.”

One of the most satisfying parts of Mattson’s job is to see areas she’s been responsible for harvesting and planting, grow again. “These forests provide jobs, products, wildlife habitat and a great quality of life that we’re lucky to enjoy here in Idaho,” she explains.

All foresters love the outdoors and most professional foresters have at least a bachelor’s degree in forestry. Summer jobs or volunteer work in natural resource management can give you valuable real-life experiences and test your suitability for a resource career.

In college, strive to develop a broad knowledge base including business management, computer and communication skills, as well as the traditional forestry topics such as silviculture and forest management.

“As your career progresses, I think the most important lessons to learn are how to effectively communicate with many different people and how to resolve conflicts in a positive manner,” says Mattson. Foresters are often loners who like to be in the woods, but the people skills needed in our profession cannot be overestimated.”

As a teenager living on the urban East coast, Mattson loved outdoor activities like camping, hiking and canoeing and was determined to go out West to do something different. If you love the outdoors and are willing to move around, especially
when starting out, forestry could be for you!

Did you know?
Foresters manage over 700 million acres of forestland in the United States!

Want to know more?

º Careers in Forestry and Natural Resources
º Temperate Forest Foundation
º Society of American Foresters
º Department of Labor
º Potlatch Corporation
º Idaho Department of Lands
º University of Idaho