Angeles National Forest Supervisor transfers months before retirement

Tom Contreras Angeles National Forest
Tom Contreras, former Forest Supervisor of the Angeles National Forest. USFS photo.

The Forest Supervisor of the Angeles National Forest transferred into a different job in mid-January months before he is scheduled to retire this spring. Tom Contreras is now serving as an assistant to the Regional Forester in Vallejo, California across the bay from San Francisco.

After Mr. Contreras left, an acting Forest Supervisor was appointed to temporarily fill the position — Daniel Lovato, currently the Deputy Forest Supervisor of the Angeles National Forest.

Mr. Contreras became the Forest Supervisor of the Angeles NF north of Los Angeles after Jody Noiron, who had been in the position since 2000, was transferred to a similar position on the nearby San Bernardino National Forest in October 2010 just days before a Congressional panel held a hearing amid accusations of mismanagement of the 2009 Station fire that burned 160,000 acres and killed two firefighters.

The Angeles National Forest was criticized for a very timid, less than aggressive response to the Station Fire, especially the morning of the second day when at just a few acres, Air Attack thought it could be stopped with the three air tankers that he requested to be over the fire at 7 a.m., but that request was not filled. Neither were the three requests he put in for a Very Large Air Tanker. Night flying helicopters were not used during the first night. Soon after 9 a.m. the fire took off and burned 160,000 acres.

The fire started weeks after the U.S. Forest Service distributed a memo requiring fire managers to consider using USFS resources rather than state and local fire equipment and personnel in order to save money.

The U.S. Forest Service’s report on the Station Fire found nothing to criticize about how the fire was managed in the first 46 hours, and said policies and procedures were followed. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on the fire that looked at number of issues and put forward some suggestions.

Articles on Wildfire Today tagged “Station Fire”.

Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Dave.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills.

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3 thoughts on “Angeles National Forest Supervisor transfers months before retirement”

  1. Whoever it was, was sent back to initial attack status on the morning of the third day. That’s when I arrived flying the relief AA. Even as early as that morning, there was an effort to keep quiet who that was. I never did hear, or care for that matter, this was a dispatch error due to policies dictated to the local office by the overhead. The blood is on their (his) hands.

    I think he just sold us a VERY expensive C130.

    After nearly twenty years flying on fires, the thing I noticed immediately that morning was the massive confusion and radio frequency snafus on the part of the AA assuming primary duties that morning.

    It was the first morning of a brutal three weeks.

  2. There is much more to the story… a District Ranger suddenly retired and the Forest Supervisor suddenly reassigned to a non-existent position in the Regional Office.

    Wonder if it had anything to do with the National Monument designation?

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