Michael Balboni. Photo courtesy of USFS

Michael Balboni. Photo courtesy of USFS

By Ann McCreary

The Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest has a new supervisor. Michael Balboni, currently forest supervisor on the Kisatchie National Forest in Pineville, La., will report for duty during the first week in October.

Balboni will become the national forest’s senior agency official, overseeing management of 4 million acres of federal land in Washington and more than 450 employees.

Balboni replaces Becki L. Heath, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest supervisor since June 2007, who will become one of two deputy regional foresters in the region’s Portland headquarters.

“Mike is a great fit for the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest,” said Pacific Northwest Regional Forest Supervisor Kent Connaughton. “He has solid fire suppression management and forest supervisor experience. He’s been with the Forest Service for more than 30 years and has gained a wealth of knowledge in four different regions.”

Balboni has worked on 11 national forests and began his career in Florida as a biological aid working in wildlife, timber management and prescribed burning, according to a Forest Service news release. He has also worked as a wildlife biologist, resource assistant and national forest planner.

Balboni was a district ranger for more than 12 years in Troy, Mont., on the Kootenai National Forest, prior to becoming deputy forest supervisor for the Bridger-Teton National Forest, in Jackson, Wyo.

He spent two-and-a-half years on the Bridger-Teton National Forest and more than 20 years in the west, before moving to Pineville, La., to become forest supervisor on the Kisatchie National Forest in 2009. He has also served as the acting deputy regional forester for natural resources for the agency’s southern region.

In 2013, the Louisiana Wildlife Federation selected Balboni as the Louisiana Professional Conservationist of Year. In addition, he served for more than seven years as chair of the Selkirk/Cabinet-Yaak Interagency Grizzly Bear Subcommittee.

Balboni’s fire suppression background includes working as an agency administrator for large fires managed by interagency incident management teams. His fire operational experience includes serving on fire lines as a division group supervisor and safety officer.

He is known for working in a collaborative fashion with interest groups, and has considerable experience supervising revisions of national forest plans, and administering stewardship contracts and agreements, the Forest Service release said.

His community leadership experience includes service as a park district chair, president of the Troy Business Club and more than 12 years as a high school football  official.

Balboni has a bachelor’s degree in forest resources and conservation from the University of Florida. He and his wife, Sylvia, have been married for more than 30 years, and have two sons who are graduates of Montana State University. He enjoys golfing, hunting, fishing, camping, mountain biking and road cycling.