Cheryl Probert at work as new acting Forest Supervisor. Photo by Brian Baxter , The Montanian
By Brian Baxter
When Cheryl F. Probert was asked how she enjoys recreating and what plans she has for personal recreation on the Kootenai National Forest, she gave out a hearty laugh. Apparently, there is a family joke about what Probert’s do, and that is drive and fish. We talked a bit about some fantastic local road tours with good fishing spots, and Cheryl expanded a bit. Her and her husband Bob enjoy riding horseback and exploring new areas. Cheryl is also an avid history buff and enjoys cross country skiing.
Cheryl originally hales from a small town in Vermont, and has lived in the west since the age of seventeen. Her interests also include hunting, landscaping, and and listening to any genre of music, except jazz. Mrs. Probert greatly values visiting her children and grandchildren. Cheryl has a degree in forestry with an emphasis on range management, and a wildlife biology degree from the University of Montana.
Mrs. Probert has a strong background in vegetation management, recruitment and hiring, forest planning, environmental analysis, and building partnerships. These skills should serve her well while with us here in the Kootenai. During her time on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest, where values are inextricably woven into the social and economic fabric of the communities and natural resource issues are close to everyone, Cheryl did very well. In a period of four years, that forest more than doubled the amount of timber volume sold, acres of hazardous fuels reduced, and maintained the largest aquatic restoration program in the Northern Region. Cheryl also helped work with local communities to enhance recreation and highlight the incredible history of the area using new technologies. Those experiences and challenges sound amazingly alike to some of the goals of the Kootenai Forest and its communities.
Cheryl certainly seems up for the challenges. When asked why she is glad to be here, Probert responded that she is looking forward to working through the challenges and being a part of something much bigger than her own self. She believes in small towns and is interested in the local happenings, stating that the challenges can actually make it more interesting. When asked where her target focus would be concentrated, the acting forest supervisor mentioned four areas. First, to work on a strategic program to meet forest vegetation and fuels goals according to the forest plan. Second, to organize and plan beneficial aspects of timber volume, acres of fuels, and treatments. Thirdly, to match skill sets of workers to projects, and lastly, to establish and improve relations with community, local governments, and state entities to keep a good neighbor policy while working to leverage projects in areas and utilize common tools for successful outcomes.
Cheryl Probert genuinely seems to feel for the folks in small communities across the northwest. Perhaps some of her insight and compassion come from the fact that her and her husband Bob owned a small business surrounded by National Forest System lands and they learned first-hand how decisions made on public lands affect small communities.
As we wrapped up our friendly talk and interview, Cheryl stated “I am very excited to be here working with the communities and resources on the Kootenai as we strategically come up with methods of how to continue improving forest conditions.” A package arrived as I was getting up to leave and Cheryl seemed eager to open it. As she did, the box revealed a beautiful pair of high tech snowshoes with tapered ends and serious ice claws. Right there, I felt my intuition was on target and that Cheryl Probert was going to fit in just fine on the Kootenai.