Lesley Yen tapped as new Interim Deputy District Ranger
“I’m looking forward to getting to know the rest of the forest,” said new Forest Service Interim Deputy District Ranger for the Mammoth and Mono Lake Districts, Lesley Yen.
After a little more than a year working on the Inyo National Forest, Yen stepped into the Interim Deputy District Ranger position on Monday to fill the void left by the departure of Mike Schlafmann last month.
“They wanted to get someone local into the position,” Yen explained. “The work was piling up.”
Through the Presidential Management Fellowship program, Yen, who holds two Masters degrees from the Yale School of Forestry (one in International Relations, the other in Environmental Management), found herself in the Eastern Sierra back in July 2010. She took on the position of Natural Resource Specialist at the White Mountain Ranger District and was working there when this opportunity became available. The Natural Resource Specialist job was Yen’s first position with the Forest Service.
Originally from Boston, Mass., Yen looked to move west after completing graduate school and felt that the position at the White Mountain Ranger District was not only an interesting assignment, but would also be a good way to get her feet wet.
“The job was a major draw, but I also love outdoor sports, especially rock climbing,” she said.
With all of the work awaiting her in her new position, however, she may not see any rock for a while.
“I had hoped to wrap up some southern [White Mountain] projects but I have been so busy this week I haven’t been able to do so,” Yen said of her already swamped schedule.
Yen’s main goals during her stint as Deputy District Ranger are to support District Ranger Jon Regelbrugge as well as hone her own leadership skills.
“I won’t take on exactly the same suite of duties as Mike because I don’t have the same level of experience and I don’t know the programs, but I’ll be able to do some other things that he wasn’t [able to find time for].” Yen said. Her focus will be day-to-day management. “I’ll be working out of Lee Vining more than Mike was, and that will be the same for whoever takes on the permanent position.”
Yen said she would be interested in applying for the permanent position, but she doesn’t know when the Forest Service will look to fill it. Currently, her interim status is based on a maximum 120-day detail.
“It could be less than that if they open the position up sooner, or it could end up extending past that,” she explained.
For now, however, she’s focusing on adjusting to her new status and location.
“Right now I live in Bishop and am commuting to Lee Vining, but I will be moving to Lee Vining soon,” she said.
Regardless of whether or not she is eventually awarded the Deputy District Ranger position on a permanent basis, Yen hopes to stay in the area.
“The fellowship [essentially a vehicle for hiring] ends in June, but one of the stipulations that comes along with it is that I would receive a job at the end, but maybe not here,” Yen explained. “However, I’d really like to stay.”