UCCE forester's retirement to leave a big hole

Feb 8, 2011

When UC Cooperative Extension forestry specialist Gary Nakamura retires this summer, he will be "leaving a big hole in our local community," organic farmer Wayne Kessler told the Redding Record-Searchlight.

The article, written by Tim Holt, reviewed Nakamura's nearly 40-year career as a forestry expert, which included stints with private industry and the U.S. Forest Service, before his long-time tenure with UC Cooperative Extension.

Nakamura took on a unique role as a go-between, a soft-spoken and knowledgeable mediator between public and private interests, the article said. In the 1990s, he worked to bring together timber interests, the Forest Service, environmental groups and local communities to form the Shasta Tehama Bioregional Council.

With the council, Nakamura was able to help craft a compromise for understory fuels reduction that:

  • Placated environmentalists' concerns with third-party monitoring
  • Guaranteed that clearing efforts would be for wildfire suppression and not economic gain

The article said Nakamura is still pursuing collaborative forestry programs. He is now assembling private timber companies, environmental groups, ranchers and public agencies in the Burney Creek/Hat Creek watershed. The effort, involving 340,000 acres of publicly and privately owned lands, will shore up creek banks, restore wetlands, add trails, and "create and maintain a local resource-based economy by encouraging more thinning and biomass harvesting for fuels," Nakamura told the reporter.

"We're fortunate to have highly productive forests in California. My whole career has been about conserving them, and using them wisely," the article quoted Nakamura.

By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist