Michael Giesey, MT Forest Service ACES Enrollee

  1. How did you become interested in working for the Forest Service and when did you start work for FS?

I’ve been interested in a career in forestry since I was about 10.  I’ve always enjoyed being in the woods and didn’t want to be like my dad and wear a suit and tie to work every day!  I learned about the Forest Service while reading about forestry careers and got my first job as a volunteer with the Student Conservation Association on the Kootenai NF in 1980.

2. What were some of the jobs you held during your career with the Forest Service? 

I worked in timber sale preparation to first half of my career starting on the marking crew and moving up to pre-sale forester.  I really enjoyed working in small timber sales where I was able to locate, plan and prepare small sales dealing with salvage of dead and dying trees.  I also enjoyed the challenges of working on large timber sales:  The long term commitment of managing forests, working with the public to educate them in forestry practices, and guiding a team of specialists through the planning process.  The second half of my career I was a silviculturist, responsible for taking a hard look at the landscape (as well as the stand level) and determining the proper vegetation management methods needed to meet objectives. The complexity of nature and the possible effects of various disturbances (fire, wind, insect and diseases, climate) on the development of a forest is very challenging because there is no “right” answer.  As some have said – it’s not rocket science – it much harder.  I also was a tree climber and instructor the last half of my career.

3. What are some of the best memories of your Forest Service career?

The best memories are of the early days working on crews accomplishing sale preparation duties. Working in very bad weather for weeks on end while trying to maintain a good attitude builds character.  Climbing whitebark pine to collect cones on a late summer day in the Cabinet Mountains is hard to beat for a job!

4. What interested you in returning to the Forest Service in the FS ACES Program with NEW Solutions?

As the Forest Silviculturist I helped mentor a couple of up and coming silviculturists the last couple years of my career.  When I announced my retirement those trainees said they felt I was abandoning them as they were preparing to go through the difficult process of becoming certified silviculturists.  I didn’t want to leave them “hanging” so I told them I would continue to help them through the certification process. Then the ACES program was created and I found out I could get paid to do what I had offered to do for free!! 

5. What is your title with the Forest Service ACES Program and what do you do?

My title is Silviculture Mentor.  I am helping silviculturist trainees navigate the long process of getting certified as a silviculturist. This process is very similar to writing and defending a masters thesis. After attending 9 weeks of graduate level courses over a 2-year period, and gaining required experience in most natural resource disciplines (typically takes 2-4 years), trainees have to complete a land management prescription for their selected stand of trees.  The prescription analyzes everything under the sun – literally – that may affect the development of that stand.  The candidate must have a working understanding of water, wildlife, soil, geology, climate, fire, weeds, weather, carbon sequestration, economics, logging systems, tree growth models, genetics, tree physiology and morphology, to name a few.  Candidate typically have many questions and need someone to bounce ideas off of and review draft prescription reports, as well as a need for someone to review operational prescriptions.

6. What do like to do when you are not working?

I enjoy working around my property doing slashing, thinning and burning (practicing forestry) as well as do my own auto and household repairs.  I’m getting back into fishing and golfing now that I’m retired. I continue to volunteer for numerous local non-profits like the Bull Lake Rod and Gun club, the Center for Asbestos Related Disease, Turner Mountain Ski Patrol, and the Whitebark Pine Ecosystem Foundation.

7. If you could invite six of the people you most admire to an imaginary campfire supper, who would they be and why?  (for example, it can be someone dead or alive; famous or infamous; celebrity or next door neighbor, etc.)

I would invite my mom and dad because they are awesome and made me what I am. Abe Lincoln because I’m from Illinois and he was a pretty amazing guy. Teddy Roosevelt because he was such an environmental hero. Jack Ward Thomas because he was such an important part of changing the Forest Service philosophy towards land management.  David Thompson because he was such an amazing cartographer and explorer.