Routt National Forest welcomes new ranger |

Routt National Forest welcomes new ranger

Michael Woodbridge. Photo courtesy of US Forest Service.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Residents using the Routt National Forest can expect to see a new face protecting the forest and making decisions on behalf of Routt County residents.

Michael Woodbridge will move to the Yampa Valley from California next week, but he started his new job as district ranger for the Hahns Peak/Bears Ears Ranger District weeks ago, working remotely from California.

“I’m really thankful that I have some great staff to lean on and learn from that are involved in the area,” Woodbridge said.

Woodbridge comes from the Tahoe National Forest in California, where he has been the district ranger on the American River Ranger District for the past three years. He has also worked for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, multiple conservation organizations and as an aide for a member of U.S. Congress. He brings a background in congressional, legislative, and public affairs, as well as experience working with partners to accomplish ecological restoration on national forests. He is a graduate of Colorado State University and an avid outdoor recreationist, according to a news release from the Forest Service.

Woodbridge had a parent in the military and, as a child, moved around often. His family lived in Colorado Springs for a few years, and Woodbridge said he fell in love with Colorado during that time. After graduating from Colorado State University, Woodbridge worked in the Tahoe National Forest but knew he wanted to return to the Rocky Mountains, particularly Colorado.

“My heart has always been in the Rockies, especially Colorado, so I always had the hope of getting back there,” Woodbridge said. “I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get back to Colorado and get back to that area.”

Woodbridge will work with local and other federal entities on fire management and mitigation, wildlife issues and recreational matters.

“For me, what it comes down to is being able to help manage pieces of land for the community and the visitors to enjoy it,” Woodbridge said.

Woodbridge will also work on the sometimes controversial issues surrounding the Mad Rabbit Trails project, where wildlife and recreational groups have shared conflicting feelings about what the future of trails should look like.

However, Woodbridge said he has already jumped into the issue and looks forward to meeting with groups representing different interests to work toward solutions.

“All the forest users and people that are impacted by what we do and our decisions for how we manage that national forest,” Woodbridge said. “The greatest good for the greatest number of people is what we strive for and I’m looking forward to meeting the partners we have and featuring our a way forward on some of the projects we have going on.”

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