West Virginia University graduate O’Dell Tucker is the acting ranger for the San Jacinto Ranger District (SJRD). Tucker also is the public services staff officer for the San Bernardino National Forest (SBNF).
Tucker’s tenure will end in October, when Marc Stamer, former Mountaintop District Ranger, returns from a temporary assignment. Stamer is headed to Idyllwild as a permanent replacement for Julie Hall, who left for the Inyo National Forest in March.
Meanwhile, Tucker is the current district ranger and he has been at the SBNF since 2017. He has already earned the prestigious Leading in Public Service Environment Award for his efforts to expedite clearing and approving various special use permits. His team was composed of headquarters staff and private sector. Leading a team from various organizations, they formed partnerships that reduced a significant backlog of permit inspections and renewals. His team also collected more than half a million dollars in owed fees and fines.
As the SBNF public services staff officer, Tucker is involved in many forest programs, including staff oversight for forest-wide heritage, lands, recreation and special uses programs.
Tucker also has been a district ranger on the San Gabriel District of the Angeles National Forest, which is one of the major reasons he is here. Stamer, on another assignment, could not begin his tenure in June.
“I have high respect for Marc; we’ve worked together a long time,” he noted.
“The forest supervisor needed someone who could step in,” Tucker explained, “someone who knows how to be a district ranger, knows Southern California, and knows the San Bernardino Forest.
“For the last box, I’ve been an active member of the forest leadership. In January 2023, I’ll finish my sixth year here,” Tucker added.
When asked if anything in the SJRD has surprised him since starting this assignment in the middle of June, Tucker said, “No surprises, nothing at all.”
Even the ecosystems on the San Jacinto and San Bernardino mountains seem similar, Tucker observed. “There’s not much difference. There’s some but it’s not huge. San Jacinto is drier. The Front County and Mountaintop districts have a slightly different climate.”
While district ranger, Tucker plans to continue to build and improve the working relationships between the district and third parties. “I hope to make some new ones and make the current ones stronger,” he said. “I want to keep things moving.”
For example, when asked about the status of the Wild and Scenic proposals involving the South Fork of the San Jacinto River, Tucker replied, “That next step, which we’re in the process of completing, is drafting responses to the comments on the proposal.”
Born and raised in Virginia, Tucker graduated from West Virginia University. He began his national forest career in 2002 on the Allegheny National Forest. He started as a forest technician. Within a few years, he was the National Environmental Policy Act coordinator at the Monongahela National Forest. During his time with the Forest Service, Tucker has been a forester and a volunteer firefighter during his eastern assignments.
Tucker, 47, is married, has five children and a sixth will arrive soon. “I’m very happy,” he said proudly.