Chrismer will leave mark on forest, community

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 3, 2008

Gloria Chrismer made history as the first female to lead the Wayne National Forest’s Ironton Ranger District.

But Chrismer made her mark, not for her gender, but for her commitment to community partnerships and making the forest an even more valuable asset for southern Ohio.

The lifelong forester will be packing her bags this month as she moves on to a new challenge. Chrismer will be taking over as a district ranger on the Caddo/Womble Ranger District, located 35 miles west of Hot Springs, Ark.

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Chrismer will be missed by many who have gotten to know her in the nearly five years since she took over the leadership at the Ironton post.

Right from the start, she brought an enthusiasm and passion to the post that seemed to be infectious.

And she will have the honor of being remembered as the individual who helped lead the way toward a bright future for the Lawrence County portion of the Wayne, Ohio’s only national forest.

Although some of the projects had begun under the guidance of her predecessor Mike baines, Chrismer was there to witness so many changes to the forest and the Lake Vesuvius Recreation Area.

A massive dam and boat ramp renovation was completed, a project that allowed for the amazing boardwalk to be constructed.

While this has been an improvement for anyone who enjoys the outdoors, this 1,400-foot handicap accessible boardwalk, new fishing pier and a renovated boat ramp area opened the door for many who wouldn’t be able to enjoy this natural beauty.

This focus has culminates each year with the Wheelin’ Sportsmen event the past four years.

Constantly looking for ways to link the county’s past to its future, Chrismer was there as an historic marker at the Lake Vesuvius Furnace was unveiled to celebrate the furnace’s significance and ties to the Underground Railroad.

Two years ago, the forest service was instrumental in creating the Vesuvius Furnace Festival that celebrated the community’s ties to the iron industry.

Along those same lines, Chrismer and the WNG partnered with several other community groups last year to host Kid’s Fishing Day, the first family-oriented fishing derby hosted since the lake was drained.

The list goes on and on. From working to increase ATV riding opportunities to improving the restrooms, campgrounds and other facilities to cracking down on vandals intent on destroying Mother Nature, Chrismer put her heart and soul into making the forest something of which all of southern Ohio can be proud.

And it didn’t stop there.

She was also part of the community, joining a variety of civic groups including the Ironton Rotary Club.

Chrismer was a staple of the club, always willing to get involved and make a difference. She even managed to earn the respect of Ray “Doc” Payne and grab a place on the grill at the annual Pancake Day. That is no small feat, let me tell you.

A popular saying for many naturalists is to “take only pictures, leave only footprints.”

Gloria Chrismer has left her “footprint” on the Ironton community and Wayne National Forest.

Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Ironton Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at