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DNRC Headquarters
1539 Eleventh Ave. Helena, MT 59601
Phone: (406) 444-2074 | Fax: (406) 444-2684
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Ed Heilman


Forestry Pioneer

Ed HeilmanEdward George Heilman was born on March 25, 1929, in Butte, Montana.  When he turned 16, he was able to get a job as a crewman on the Big Bend Ranger District of the Lake Tahoe National Forest.  He was assigned to work at Donner Pass in California.  So began his life-long affair with the U.S. Forest Service.  

After graduating from UM with a degree in Forestry in 1950, Ed returned to California and was posted to the Downieville Ranger District of the Tahoe National Forest. There, he met Donna Dever, a young schoolteacher. They became engages six weeks later.

When the United States became involved in the Korean War, Ed learned that he had been classified A1 by his draft board.  In addition to his degree in Forestry, Ed had also successfully completed four years of ROTC training at UM and traveled to the Hamilton Air Force Base to determine if he was qualified to serve as a commissioned officer.  He was granted a commission and soon afterward he and Donna were married.  Two weeks later Ed reported for active duty in Texas.  There he was assigned to Communications School at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.  Upon completion of his communications training, Ed was assigned to Taegu Air Force Base in southern Korea where he served as the Base Director of Communications.  Shortly after the truce was signed in 1953, Ed returned to Donna, their one year old daughter and employment with the Forest Service.

During the following years, Ed had a number of assignments throughout California including both Assistant Ranger and District Ranger in Descanso on the Cleveland National Forest in southern California.  This was followed by a stint as Director of Fire Management for the Shasta-Trinity National Forest in Redding, California.

In 1967 Ed was transferred to Tuscon, Arizona, where he was the first Director of the National Fire Training School at Marana, Arizona, which provided training for students from throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, India and the Philippines, as well as other foreign countries.

In 1970 Ed was transferred to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, as Director of Aviation and Fire Management for Region 9 of the Forest Service which included the twenty northeastern states.  In 1974 he was delighted to receive a similar position in Region 1 of the Forest Service Headquarters in Missoula, where he serviced until his retirement in 1984.  In that position, he worked closely with state fire managers on fire management.  His professional contributions to the agency - and to the benefit of DNRC - are many. 

Upon retirement, Ed and Donna moved into the house that they had designed for themselves with sweeping views of the surrounding mountains and the city of Missoula.  Ed expanded his many volunteer activities. He was president of the Friends of the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, served on the Missoula County Park Board, was active in the Society of American Foresters, volunteered at the Forestry Exhibit at Fort Missoula, helped with the establishment of the National Forest Service Museum, and was part of the group that brought about the establishment of the Veterans Cemetery in Missoula.  

Ed received a great deal of recognition for his service and achievement. In 1973 he was made a member of the California Board of Forestry.  In 1984 he was made an Honorary Fire Warden for the State of Montana.  In 1987 Ed was recognized by the Society of American Foresters for his outstanding performance in the field of forestry.  In 1989 he was elected National Fellow by the Society of American Foresters.  In 1990 he was awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award for the University of Montana Forestry School for Outstanding Service. In 2010 Ed was named Forestry Pioneer by the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, Forestry Division.

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