A Northern California native who grew up exploring the Sierra Nevada has been chosen to replace retiring Stanislaus National Forest Supervisor Susan Skalski in September.
Jeanne Higgins, 55, originally from the Auburn area, is a longtime Forest Service employee and currently serves as a deputy regional forester in Albuquerque, N.M.
She spent part of her youth during the 1960s in the Groveland area while her father worked on the reconstruction of Highway 120 leading into Yosemite National Park.
“I spent quite a bit of time backpacking and hiking in the Emigrant Wilderness, so I have a personal connection with the forest,” she said. “I’m excited about the opportunity to work with the forest, its partners and the communities that care about it.”
Higgins started her career with the Forest Service in the early 1980s and obtained a bachelor’s degree in forest resource management from the University of Idaho in 1988. She has since served in a number of different roles on national forests in Montana, Oregon, Utah and Wisconsin.
In 2007, Higgins became forest supervisor of the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Wisconsin. She later served as forest supervisor of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest in eastern California and Nevada before she was selected to her current position in 2012.
Higgins steps into her new role one year after the massive Rim Fire burned about 154,000 acres of the Stanislaus National Forest along with about 77,000 acres in Yosemite National Park and thousand of acres of private land. She said she has years of experience working on post-wildfire recovery efforts, including during her tenure as a district ranger on the Bitterroot National Forest in Montana from 2001 to 2005.
“There were some very large fires before I went there,” she said of her time on the Bitterroot National Forest. “I’ve also served for the last two years in the southwest where we’ve had very large fires and our focus has been on restoring those forests, so I do have quite a bit of experience leading those efforts.”
Higgins is scheduled to begin her new duties the day after Skalski officially retires on Sept. 2.