The Forest Ranger


Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story: Catron County's politics heat up as its land goes bankrupt

Mike Gardner has worked for the Forest Service in Catron County for 15 years, first as a wilderness ranger on the Gila National Forest, then as district ranger in Luna, and since 1988 as district ranger in Reserve.

"About a year and a half ago, the Forest Service hired a clinical psychologist out of Albuquerque. She came down and helped the Forest Service employees and their spouses deal with some of the things we have to deal with on a daily basis - like you go to the local store and they've got a ceramic spotted owl hanging by the neck. After awhile that tends to get to your families.

"What she did was give us some tools to deal with that. She said it won't do you any good to get mad at the people at the store. You need to get your own support group.

"It's getting easier (to work here). The Oklahoma bombing occurred and the violence in Nevada had a real sobering effect on people around here. One person who was pretty radical at the time - flying his flag upside down - after the Oklahoma bombing, he turned it right side up. It don't sound like much, but the rhetoric of violence has slowed tremendously since then."

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