Ranger living dream

Published 12:40 am Thursday, July 12, 2012

What started out as a temporary assignment has now turned into a new adventure for Tim Mersmann, a 23-year U.S. Forest Service veteran and new district ranger at the Conecuh National Forest.

Mersmann was named to the post in May and is now responsible for guiding activities to improve forest health and provide public goods and services from the Conecuh National Forest.

A native of Birmingham, Mersmann is in the process of establishing a new home in Covington County. He’s spent the last 12 years in the agency’s regional office in Atlanta.

“I was sent here in January for a temporary assignment,” Mersmann said. “I loved it so much here, I put in for the permanent job. The people here – both the staff and the community – are wonderful. You couldn’t ask for better.

“I’ve always loved the longleaf pine forests,” he said. “My wife, Suzi, is also a forrester and a biologist from Southern Georgia. To tell you how much we love longleaf pines, we had them as staging in our wedding. So, getting the opportunity to come here and work among the longleaf pines is a dream come true.

“And since our kids are grown and in college, it’s a new adventure for me and my wife,” he said.

Mersmann supervises the Conecuh staff of 20 employees who manage recreation, fire, special uses, wildlife and timber programs on the 84,000 acres of public lands located south of Andalusia.

Mersmann recently worked in the Forest Service southern region office in Atlanta as the regional manager of the Forest Stewardship Program in State and Private Forestry. In his previous positions, Mersmann coordinated conservation planning on national forests across the South, and lead silviculture, wildlife and planning programs on National Forests in Mississippi and Arkansas.

“My new position is an opportunity to be part of the great work for which the Conecuh is known,” Mersmann said. “The Conecuh National Forest is a public jewel in the heart of longleaf pine country.

“It is a real treat to get to work with the excellent staff here on restoring these fire-maintained native forests for a wide variety of public uses and values,” he said. “I encourage everyone to learn more about this treasure in your back yard because it belongs to you. I want to make sure the community knows that there are a lot of acres to hunt, hike and camp, as well as designated recreation areas that are just waiting to be enjoyed.”

A graduate of University of Georgia, Mersmann earned a bachelor of science degree in timber management and wildlife biology in 1984. He later received a master’s degree in wildlife science from Virginia Tech in 1989.