Jeff Jahnke has been named as the Colorado state forester, or director of the Colorado State Forest Service. Jahnke begins today and will be based out of the agency’s headquarters at Colorado State University in Fort Collins.
Jahnke has a bachelor’s degree in forestry from Michigan Technological University and a master’s in forest and range management from Washington State University, and has built a 35-year career in state forestry organizations. Jahnke, who previously served as state forester in Alaska, currently chairs the National Association of State Foresters’ Forest Fire Protection Committee and holds a leadership position with the Western Forestry Leadership Coalition. He has more than three decades of wildland firefighting experience, which includes managing firefighting operations at all levels and functioning as a Type I Incident Commander.
"Jeff Jahnke knows Western forestry through experience in the West including Montana, Alaska and regional leadership positions. He has the experience, knowledge and personality to lead the Colorado State Forest Service and to provide its vital services to Colorado citizens," said Marc Johnson, the Colorado State University vice provost who oversees the agency.
The Colorado State Forest Service helps landowners reduce wildfire hazards, assists communities with forest insect and disease problems such as the major mountain pine beetle outbreak currently killing thousands of acres of trees in Colorado’s high country, and aids farmers and ranchers in establishing windbreaks on Colorado’s Eastern Plains.
As state forester, Jahnke will oversee 135 full-time employees and 17 field offices across the state. He will manage forest fire prevention and wildland fire programs that are coordinated among federal, state and county agencies and train and equip about 450 volunteer fire departments. Jahnke also will administer programs to protect forests from and treat forests damaged by insect and disease, provide technical assistance to owners of 8 million acres of private and state forest land and assist with monitoring forest conditions on 14 million acres of federal land. In addition, Jahnke will oversee tree nurseries and forest stewardship, and environmental education efforts administered across the state through the state office.
"Following former state foresters Jim Hubbard and Tom Borden is going to be an awesome task," Jahnke said. "They have established a 40-year legacy of success for the Colorado State Forest Service that will be important to maintain and grow."
Jahnke will work to improve Colorado’s forest resources through partnerships, interagency collaboration and securing grants to assist fire departments and landowners across the state.
"Managing Colorado’s natural resources takes dedication and cooperation from all agencies," said Russell George, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. "I know that Jeff is up to the challenge of managing our forests and participating in this cooperative effort. I look forward to working with him."
The Colorado State Forest Service is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary in service to the people of Colorado.