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ODF Southwest District names new leader

The Oregon Department of Forestry has picked Tyler McCarty to be head of its Southwest Oregon District.
McCarty chosen for role after serving as interim head

The Oregon Department of Forestry announced this week that Tyler McCarty has been named district forester for the Southwest District serving Jackson and Josephine counties.

With more than 20 years of experience in fire protection, forestry and emergency services in Southern Oregon, McCarty is a familiar face on the local firefighting scene. He has served as interim district forester for the ODF Southwest District since June 2021.

“It’s humbling to be selected as district forester of the district I’ve spent my career in,” McCarty said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to lead it and continue the good work in fire suppression and forestry that Southern Oregon has come to expect.”

ODF said McCarty was picked to be the permanent district forester after a competitive hiring process that drew qualified candidates from many western states. Candidates who met qualifications went through an interview process, background investigation and reference checks.

“Not only does Tyler have extensive experience in firefighting, but he has strong, established relationships with our partner agencies, local and state representatives, and above all, deep ties to the communities the district serves,” said ODF Southern Area Director Dave Larson. “I’m confident he’ll continue to lead the district forward in a successful manner — just as he did this past fire season.”

Larson worked as the district forester for the ODF Southwest District before being promoted to his current job. That created the opening that McCarty filled on an interim basis until being hired permanently for the job.

During this year’s long fire season, the ODF Southwest District had 337 fires on the private and U.S. Bureau of Land Management property it protects in Jackson and Josephine counties.Those fires were held to a combined total of 389 acres, with the largest at 60 acres.

Firefighters stamped out the fires while they were still relatively small during a period of historic drought. The Rogue Valley also went through a heat wave in early summer that saw temperatures spike to 115 degrees in Medford, tying a record set in 1946.

The Rogue Valley suffered no massive wildfires in 2021, although smoke from distant fires did blanket the area for part of the summer.

ODF regularly works with the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest and rural fire districts to fight fires.

The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest had 60 fires that combined to burn 53 acres this year. The largest fire was 22 acres.

ODF officials said McCarty began his career at age 18 when he worked for the ODF Southwest Oregon District for the 2001 fire season and as a volunteer structural firefighter with Jackson County Fire District No. 5. For the next two years, he interned with Grants Pass Fire-Rescue while completing his paramedic degree with Lane Community College.

ODF said McCarty continued to work seasonally for ODF, quickly working his way up from a fire suppression specialist to a seasonal forest officer, permanent forest officer and eventually a wildland fire supervisor on the Medford Unit within the first six years of his career with the agency. In December 2015, he became the assistant district forester in Grants Pass, where he led the unit for the following six years.

Throughout his career in fire, McCarty has also served on ODF incident management teams in a variety of roles. He will serve as the ODF Team 3 incident commander for the 2022 fire season, ODF said.

Reach Mail Tribune reporter Vickie Aldous at 541-776-4486 or valdous@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @VickieAldous.