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Withlacoochee forest gets new administrator

Winnie Schreiber most recently has worked with the U.S. Forest Service at the massive Lolo National Forest near Missoula, Mont.

Friday was her first day in a related but much different job: forestry resources administrator for the three tracts of the Withlacoochee State Forest.

At 145,000 acres, the Withlacoochee is a fraction of the area of the Lolo. It also is near an urban area _ just 50 miles north of Tampa _ and must accommodate mountain bikers, hikers, horse riders and even motorcycles.

It will largely be on Schreiber's advice that the state Division of Forestry decides how much of its timber will be sold as lumber and how much of the forest will be maintained every year with controlled burns.

In addition, she will have to juggle the demands of all the different people who want to use the forest.

Her job "has the stress of managing an area with limited resources and a lot of goals," said Bill Korn, manager of the forestry headquarters north of Brooksville.

Schreiber, 41, who spent most of Friday touring the forests, said:

"It's a smaller land base, and there's a lot more people using the area. My initial impression is that this area is really complex, with a lot of different habitats and a lot of different uses."

Schreiber replaces Jon Blanchard, who left the job in October to work at the Tallahassee office of the Nature Conservancy, a non-profit environmental organization.

She said she is familiar with Florida, or at least part of it.

She grew up in Pensacola, she said. She moved to the West in 1979 and started working for the Forest Service as a firefighter. She attended the University of Idaho and the University of Montana, where she received her bachelor's degree in botany with a minor in forestry.

She has experience managing a variety of uses on public lands, including mining and timber sales. And her most recent job, which was in public relations, might come in particularly handy in sorting out the demands of the users in the Withlacoochee.

"We were looking for someone who has experience working with public land, and some experience dealing with people," Korn said. "We needed a people person."

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