September 28, 2022
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Carole Johnson to retire from Superior Ranger District after long career

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On average, men hold 12.5 jobs in their lifetime with a median tenure of 4.3 years. For women, it is 12.1 jobs lasting about 3.9 years in each position.

This is according to information that Zippia researched between 2018 and 2020.

Now drop in Carole Johnson, who is retiring at the end of this month from the U.S. Forest Service after 50 years at the same ranger district. This is unheard of with Forest Service employees who are transferred or accept positions in the National Forest System, that are in 44 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

Johnson was born and raised in Superior.

After graduating Montana State University in Bozeman, she began her career on the Superior Ranger District as a summer seasonal in 1971.

“At that time, we did a little bit of everything,” she shared. “One of the things I helped with early on in my career is that we surveyed all of the streams in the Superior Ranger District for fish habitat. We measured water temperature, velocity of water, bank cover, temperature of the water, ripple.”

This is something Fish, Wildlife and Parks does today, but that was at the time the floppy disc was everywhere, Post-It notes came to be and diet soda slammed the market.

“I had the privilege to work with Carole when I became a county commissioner and a member of the Mineral County Resource Coalition,” remembered Laurie Johnston. “She continually strived to enhance forest management and recreation throughout Mineral County. She’d call or send me a text to keep me updated if there was a fire started or they were doing a prescribed burn so I could keep the public informed. Her dedication to her job and Mineral County will be hard to beat.”

Johnson may have been one of the pioneers of “Dirty Jobs” too.

“I cleaned the chimneys at Savenac (tree nursery). That was one of my major projects,” she said, and that area was a labor of love for her.

“I am most proud of getting Savenac Historic Tree Nursery on the National Register of Historic places and helping with the restoration of the compound, historic landscape, interpretation, and being able to share it with the public through the cabin rental program for generations to come. The site has a rich history that follows the history of the agency.”

St. Regis fellow-rancher, Rep. Denley Loge is grateful for their lifelong friendship.

“I have known Carole Johnson since the mid 60s and at that time we were in 4-H together. We went to cattle judging events and had animals at the fair. Carole was always a participant and took the judging and her projects very seriously. Carole’s time at the Forest Service has always been held in high regard for her organizational skills and her work ethic. Whether setting up fire camps, field trips, the fair board, or work sessions or training, she left no detail unattended. We have to be grateful when she was promoted to the position of Superior Ranger,” Loge said.

Johnson’s career path was not only applauded locally, but her supervisors knew what a diamond they had in the Superior Ranger District.

“Carole Johnson exemplifies all the best qualities of leadership. She genuinely cares about the community she served and the employees she guided and mentored over her career. It was an honor to have Carole in public service and we will miss her,” said Carolyn Upton, Lolo National Forest Supervisor.

“I have had the honor of working with Carole Johnson for the past 21 years. Her accomplishments and contributions to Mineral County and the Superior Ranger District over the past 50+ years cannot possibly be listed. For someone so small, she will be leaving some really, really big boots to fill,” said Lorie Cotter, Fire Management Officer for the Superior Ranger District.

And this respect goes two ways.

“You know I had a great career with the Forest Service,” Johnson said. “It’s something I’m very proud of. I worked with great people. Employees and supervisors and everyone. The Nightrider Snowmobile Club, Back Country Horsemen and all of the people in the community,” Johnson smiles.

So, what does retirement look like for this woman who has done so much for the people, animals and forests of her 500,000-acre district?

“Well, my family has always been involved in ranching and that is what my immediate plans are for now.”

A razzle-dazzle public send off for Ranger Johnson is being held at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 24 at the Mineral County Fairgrounds in Superior with your choice of prime rib or stuffed pork loin. Information and cost will be handled by Racheal Koke at (406) 241-5689, but your RSVP is required no later than June 16.

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