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DNRC Headquarters
1539 Eleventh Ave. Helena, MT 59601
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Tom Vars

Tom VarsForestry Pioneer

Tom graduated from the University of Idaho with a Bachelor's degree in Forest Management, then started work with the Office of the State Forester in 1955 which became the Department of State Lands and later morphed into DNRC. He was classified as a scaler and at that time the scaler administered timber sales as they scaled the logs in the field. The day started and ended with the logging crew. Extra time was considered "just part of the job." In 1957 he was one of the first Service Foresters in the State involved with the development of the Cooperative Forest Management "CFM" program. His areas of responsibility were Flathead Lake, Lincoln, as well as all the highline counties from Great Falls to Glasgow.

In the early 60's he worked in Missoula in the Fire Program that was to expand fire suppression responsibilities on additional lands in Eastern and Western Montana. Upon Governor Nutter's untimely death, the program went into a state of limbo so he requested a transfer back into forest management.

In 1963 he was involved in the construction of the Swan Forest Headquarters. They were there 10 days then had 4 days off. Nate Hays would be up at 6 a.m., build a fire and roust them out, "So you can get in a decent days work." In the mid 60's through '69 he was in charge of a timber sale preparation crew. They set up administrated sales in the Libby, Eureka, Stillwater, North Fork, Swan, Kalispell, Lincoln and Sula state forests. During this time and in the following years, they located over 400 miles of primary and secondary road systems on State land. The largest single sale he remembers had about 25 miles of new and existing road improvement and 11 million board feet of timber.

From 1969 to 1996 he was assigned to the Stillwater unit. He retired in 1996 after 41 years with State Forestry enjoying every one of them. He says, "I do miss the interaction of a fire team."

In his retirement, taking care of two places, one on Flathead Lake and one near Whitefish tends to keep him busy.

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