Late last week, Lolo National Forest Fire Management Officer Laura Ward was named the National Forest Service Fire Management Officer of the Year.

“I got the award because I was nominated by my supervisor and a group of my peers voted to approve my nomination, so I was very surprised,” Ward said on Friday. “It was based on some of the work I had done at both the national and regional level to move parts of the program forward, like the wildfire risk assessment that we completed for the forest, one of the first ones in Region One. I’d also been working on some contracts that hadn’t been done in the agency before.”

Ward said she didn’t even know that she had been nominated for the award, even though she had worked for the Forest Service for many years.

“I’ve been at the supervisor’s office for seven years now, and before that I worked at the Nine Mile Ranger District for 11 years, and before that I worked for 15 years for the Forest Service in Oregon. I really appreciate my peers and coworkers for nominating me for the award.”

Tim Garcia, Forest Supervisor for the Lolo National Forest, said “Laura has made significant contributions at the local, regional and national level to advance the fire program, and her leadership is exceptional and the strength of the relationships she has developed with our local and state partners has been instrumental in our success.”