Paul Cheng, Forester

I grew up in California, in the San Francisco Bay Area, knowing nothing about natural resource management. In fact, my experiences with the outdoors were very limited. But, somehow I ended up in the Forest Service as a forester with primary responsibilities in timber sale preparation.

I studied forestry in college because it involved trees and figured it was kind of related to wildland firefighting. What I really wanted to be was a smokejumper. I always wanted to be a firefighter and thought jumping out of airplanes and fighting fire was awesome. I did not know a single thing about forests, other than it contained trees, and fortunately, it is something I enjoy.

My first job was a wildland firefighter on an engine. My fire career did not last very long because I was persuaded by a Forest Service recruiter that I can be a forester. So, the next year I was in the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP), now called the “Pathways Program.” The SCEP program was for students interning with the agency while still going to school. After graduation, the agency placed student in various vacancies that meet the need of the agency.

In my current job as a forester in timber sale preparation, I am responsible for all aspects of preparing timber sales. I spend quite a bit of time in the field laying out sales and cruising trees to determine volume. I appraise the value of timber and prepare the contract for selling the timber. Being on a small district, I had the opportunity to do a little bit of everything in the timber program. I have administered contracts, conducted stand exams, and wrote prescriptions.

My favorite aspect of working for the Forest Service is our motto, “Caring for the land and serving people”. Actually being real stewards of public lands is a very gratifying feeling to have. Producing tangible benefits, such as timber and local economic stability, and intangible benefits, such as reduction of catastrophic wildfires and improvements to forest health and wildlife habitat, is all in a day’s work.

As a forester, the Forest Service has provided me with a noble profession: being a steward of public lands, restoring and making more resilient our land, and providing benefits to the American people.

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