This month, we are pleased to feature John "Chris" Maisch, Alaska State Forester and Director of the Division of Forestry.

What was your first position in the field of forestry?

My first position was in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan working as a summer hire forestry technician on a spruce budworm research project being conducted by the University of Michigan.

How long have you been in your role?

I’ve served as State Forester and Director of the Division of Forestry since the fall of 2005, so almost twelve years. That translates into serving under four different Governors in Alaska. The job offer came via a phone call during the field tour at the 2005 National Association of State Foresters' annual meeting in Wisconsin at the Aldo Leopold Shack and Farm. I walked away from the group and took the call in a wooded clearing, a nice spot to accept the offer.

What do you enjoy most about being a CWSF member?

Having the opportunity to meet and get to know a very talented and dedicated group of state foresters and their staffs that are engaged in managing our nation’s forest resources. Working with such a group is inspiring and very motivating to me. As an organization and as individuals, we are making a difference.

What do you see to be the emerging issues in your state?

Well, there are many, but the top one is climate related changes that affect both our terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, particularly our wildland fire occurrences and acreage burned.

What is your favorite tree?

That is a hard question. There are many reasons I like certain species and all relate back to personal experiences, maybe with a wood product, like a canoe paddle (white ash) I made in college or cutting firewood (white spruce and paper birch) with my son and daughter or the seedlings we planted (Siberian larch and Scotts pine) when each child was born. I remember climbing in the black cherry tree at our church and getting red stains on my Sunday shirt, barber chairing a nice black walnut tree while felling (that was an expensive mistake) and building our home with white spruce trees killed in the Rosie Creek fire near Fairbanks.