The West Fork Ranger District has been pretty smoky this week with a few prescribed fires of slash piles throughout the large Bitterroot National Forest district. Once the smoke clears, there will be a new district ranger in place. Dan Pliley has been named the new West Fork Ranger, replacing Seth Carbonari, who has moved on to the nearby Kootenai National Forest.

Pliley has most recently been a team leader on the Northern Region NEPA Strike Team, which works with three National Forests in Montana, North and South Dakota. According to Public Affairs Officer Tod McKay of the Bitterroot Forest, Pliley will take over the post next week, October 25.

Pliley is very familiar with the Bitterroot Valley. He was born in the valley and is a Hamilton High School graduate. He was in the U.S. Army for 24 years, including 14 years in the Military Police Corps. McKay reports that Dan has a master's degree in Business and Organizational Security Management.

Bitterroot National Forest Supervisor Matt Anderson said in a news release, "We selected Dan to be the next West Fork District Ranger because he has demonstrated the type of leadership skills needed to continue the great work happening up the West Fork. I'm thrilled for Dan to be able to come back to the Bitterroot to manage a landscape that is very near and dear to his heart."

Pliley commented, "It feels like a dream to grow up here, then leave for a 24-year military career, and eventually return as a District Ranger. I am very humbled and grateful for the opportunity to serve as the Ranger for the West Fork District."

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The West Fork district reaches far to the south and west for the Bitterroot National Forest, bordering with Idaho, surrounding the Painted Rocks Reservior and containing the eastern entrance to the Magruder Corridor, which winds into Idaho between the Selway-Bitterroot and the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Areas.

By the way, the prescribed burning has moved on the Darby/Sula Ranger District. You can keep up to date with the forest at their Facebook page.

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Today these parks are located throughout the country in 25 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The land encompassing them was either purchased or donated, though much of it had been inhabited by native people for thousands of years before the founding of the United States. These areas are protected and revered as educational resources about the natural world, and as spaces for exploration.

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