Wayne ranger transfers to West Virginia

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 5, 2003

Pedro -- Co-workers and friends at Ironton's district of the Wayne National Forest recently said goodbye to District Ranger Mike Baines, who played an instrumental role in many of the Lake Vesuvius projects during the past 3 1/2 years.

Baines transferred to the Monongahela National Forest in Elkins, W. Va., late last month.

"You only go around once. I really enjoyed being district ranger in Ironton, but I wanted some different experiences before I retired," Baines said. "It was bittersweet and with great reluctance that I left. I am really excited about what the district has started and will continue."

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He has taken the position of public service group leader in the 909,000-acre forest that spans 10 counties in West Virginia and is the fourth largest National Forest in 20 northeastern states. He will oversee recreation, fire usage and natural resources.

Baines, who has been a part of the National Forest Service for more than 30 years, said he was proud of the many projects that were completed while he was in Ironton -- such as the land exchange that made the new Rock Hill Elementary and High School possible.

"Without that exchange the state was going to pull back a $10 million grant," he said. "Although I only played a small part, it did happen on my tenure."

He said he was also proud of the work accomplished to bring the Lake Vesuvius Dam up to standards and lay the ground work for the boardwalk and boat ramp projects. He plans to keep a close eye on the projects and will attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony when the lake is filled later this summer.

"I will definitely miss the area and the people," he said. "I enjoyed living there. It will be a high point of my career."

Mike Freidhof will serve as the acting ranger until Feb. 24 when Dan Kincaid will be transferred from the Forest Service in Morgantown, W.Va. Kincaid has worked in the Wayne in the past and will serve as acting ranger for about 60 days while a permanent replacement is looked for, Freidhof said.

Also, John Brown was hired as assistant ranger after transferring from Utah last month.

Although these new additions will be valuable, it will be hard to replace Baines, Freidhof said.

"Mike had a lot ideas about what we needed to do for the district and the community," Freidhof said. "We will not have that leadership he provided, but he worked hard while he was here to make sure the stuff in the pipeline had everything set up so it will carry through."