HEFLIN — The Shoal Creek District of the Talladega National Forest has another interim district ranger until a permanent replacement can be found.
Scott Smith, 47, replaces interim district ranger Daks Kennedy, who served in that capacity for four months.
The previous district ranger, Karen McKenzie, retired earlier this year after serving 39 years in the Forest Service and the last nine as district ranger.
Smith — who began his four-month tenure on Monday — is no stranger to the 117,000-acre Shoal Creek district, having spent 10 years as the timber sales administrator from 2004-14. He’s on loan, he said, from the U.S. Forest Service regional office in Atlanta where he’s the timber sales contract specialist.
Smith, who lives in Ranburne, said the commute to Heflin is much nicer than the daily commute to Atlanta and he enjoys being back in familiar surroundings.
“It felt good to come back here this week and I’m looking forward to getting out in the field and seeing some of the stuff I worked on before and seeing how it’s changed and looks like now,” Smith said Wednesday.
Even though Smith worked in timber sales and administration he wore many hats during his tenure at Shoal Creek.
“I helped with prescribed burning, wildfire suppression, recreation staff and special events,” he said. “One of the projects I worked on that stands out the most in my mind is something memorable, and I’m really proud of, it’s the picnic pavilion at Coleman Lake.”
“I was really engaged in that project because we built that from trees that came off the forest,” Smith said.
Smith said once the trees were gathered the logs were milled into the lumber used to construct the pavilion.
“That was a cool project that was a recreation outside of my primary responsibilities,” Smith said.
Smith, like the previous interim ranger, doesn't want to come in and change what he calls SOP — standard operating procedures — the district already has in place. Rather, he wants to do his part to keep his predecessor's ongoing projects moving forward.
“I don’t want to mix it up for them and the reason for that is I don’t want to change it then four months later change again, you don’t want to put employees through that,” Smith said.