Ranotta McNair (Forest Supervisor)
Idaho Panhandle Forests Supervisor, Coeur d'Alene, Idaho (Retired 2011)
Over the past 32 years, Ranotta McNair has worked herself upward through the ranks of the U.S. Forest Service, from Oregon volunteer to supervisor of the 2.4 million-acre Idaho Panhandle National Forests. At her present position in Coeur d’Alene since 2001, she deals with vast responsibilities while overseeing the management of natural resources, business operations and customer services. More specifically, Ranotta’s job description entails year-round management of “diverse outdoor recreational experiences, forest health, fire suppression, timber harvest, archeology, water quality, watershed health, geology and minerals, outreach and partnerships, fisheries and wildlife and infrastructure management.”
In spite of this success and responsibility, this forest supervisor says she’s not too proud to volunteer to clean up trash along roadways. “In most Forest Service jobs you get really connected to your community,” she says, “and you become part of the community . . . Forest Service folks volunteer in the community.”
As a mother of two, Ranotta’s volunteerism focuses around youth development, youth soccer, leadership training, volunteering at a food bank and, yes, picking up trash. “I enjoy doing my part and giving back to the community, regardless of the task,” she says.
Ranotta has reason to take great pride in her career achievements. With an interest in natural resources stemming from family camping trips along Oregon’s scenic Metolius River, she enrolled in the Youth Conservation Corps and eventually completed a two-year forestry program while working as a student volunteer for the Forest Service. After six years of practical forestry experience, she moved on to Oregon State University School of Forestry, where she earned her Bachelor of Science Degree. Her career has included positions in Oregon, Idaho and North Carolina.
Ranotta’s resume includes serving as a forester, district ranger and resource staff officer. As Forest Service representative at the Regional Ecosystem Office in Portland, Ore., her efforts of reaching out to communities, counties, tribal governments, states and two Forest Service regional offices to “establish and meet mutual goals and outcomes for land and natural resources,” helped in the development of laying the foundation for the Pacific Northwest Final Plan which gave natural resource direction for 24 million acres of public land, spanning from Oregon to Washington to Northern California.
In the late 1990s she assumed the position as deputy forest supervisor for the 1.2 million-acre Nantahala, Pisgah, Uwharrie and Croatan National Forests in North Carolina. “I spent 3 ½ years there,” she says. “I was in the Appalachian Mountains in the Old Smoky area. It’s very different but beautiful. What I really liked was learning about the people and the communities.” That same outlook followed her to Idaho where she loves bringing together people who have contrasting opinions on how forests should be administered. “Here, they have a genuine love for their “backyard forest lands,” she says. “We have a lot of people who volunteer and partner with us.
“People with totally diverse views come to the table,” she adds, “and after a while, they’re listening to one another. Eventually they come up with an approach to an activity that is good for all of us, based on science, community values and public interests.” To suggest that Ranotta loves her work could be an understatement. She’s happy spending her career with an agency that promotes balance between family and work. She also enjoys meeting people in her day-to-day duties, ranging from Nobel laureates to loggers to biologists to community activists. On any given day, she may spend several hours in the office, meeting with groups to discuss issues such as wild-land fire use, proposed legislation dealing with off-road vehicles, Border Patrol concerns, or environmental management of the forest. Other days, she might be climbing on a horse and heading down a trail for an overnight trip to the mountains.
“There is no such thing as a typical day,” she says, “That’s what I love about this job.” Like her colleagues in the industry, welfare of public lands remains her prime motivator for showing up to work each day. “My passion is the outdoors. I really like natural resources,” she explains. “I like the Forest Service because we are an agency that makes memories. We’re stewards of the public’s backyard playground. We support communities by providing meaningful jobs and homes for the species people love to see. It’s the passion around all that.”
Want to know more?
º U.S Forest Service
º Information about the Idaho Panhandle National Forests
º Job Information for Students and Parents