The deputy forest supervisor for Idaho’s Nez-Perce Clearwater National Forests, Kurt Steele, has been named the new forest supervisor for Flathead National Forest.
Steele is scheduled to begin work in mid-February. He is taking over for long-standing supervisor Chip Weber, who retired at the end of 2019 after a 33-year career with the Forest Service that took him to four different regions and seven different national forests. Weber served as Flathead National Forest Supervisor for nearly a decade.
“Kurt is a proven leader who welcomes new voices and diverse perspectives, and has dedicated his career to public service,” Regional Forester Leanne Marten said Friday in announcing the hire.
In addition to his current service as deputy forest supervisor, Steele has completed three recent temporary forest supervisor assignments on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forest, the Bitterroot National Forest, and the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie in Illinois. Prior to his current position, Steele served as a district ranger on the Superior National Forest in Minnesota.
“I am tremendously honored to serve the public and forest employees as Flathead National Forest’s new supervisor,” Steele said in a prepared statement. “I look forward to engaging with our partners, local businesses and surrounding communities as we write the forest’s next chapter together. The Flathead Valley is an incredibly special place, and my family and I are excited about the opportunity to be able to settle in here and raise our family in this welcoming, community-oriented area.”
Steele began his Forest Service career as a firefighter on the Umatilla National Forest and the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forests, serving on engine crews and rappel teams, and was able to fill in with the Rogue River Hotshots. He then became a certified silviculturist and held forestry and planning roles on both the Willamette and Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forests, prior to becoming a line officer.
Steele was raised in Oregon and holds a degree in natural resources from Oregon State University with a focus on forest ecosystems, and a double minor in forest management and fisheries and wildlife. He enjoys hunting, fishing, wildlife viewing, camping, hiking, rafting, snowboarding/skiing, riding all-terrain vehicles and boating.
Steele will be joined by his wife, Melissa, a middle school teacher, and 5-year-old son, Jack, at the end of the school year.