David Groeschl (State Forester)
As both the Idaho State Forester and the Deputy Director of Forestry & Fire with the Idaho Department of Lands (IDL), David Groeschl (rhymes with “special”) is in charge of everything from timber sale administration to forest health maintenance, wildfire fighting and managing the individual bureaus within IDL. David oversees four key bureaus at IDL: the Fire Management Bureau which provides fire protection on over six million acres of state and private forestlands; the Forest Management Bureau which is responsible for sustainably managing approximately one million acres of state endowment forestlands to maximize revenue to the trust beneficiaries; the Forestry Assistance Bureau which provides assistance to private forestland owners and oversees the Forest Practices Act; and the Technical Services Bureau which provides professional technical assistance and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) support to all agency programs.
It is a big job, but David is up to the challenge. “As far as the Department’s primary mission, we need to provide a healthy forest for all Idahoans,” David says. “Everything we do at IDL is reflective of this mission.” IDL is tasked with maximizing revenue from state endowment lands in order to benefit Idaho schools. David ensures that the Department protects state endowmentlands from catastrophic wildfire and other forest health threats, as well as to see that IDL timber sales are administered properly for maximum return.
“This is a very rewarding job,” David says. “I love being part of a team that manages a sustainable, renewable resource. IDL not only meets our fiduciary responsibility, but also our stewardship goals on state lands. These two things are not mutually exclusive, but compatible.”
David states that the toughest part of his job is “trying to find balance between the different perspectives of all the key stakeholders out there.” He continues, “It is my responsibility to really listen to what people have to say, try to understand where they’re coming from, and help them work through issues and find solutions that will be acceptable to everyone.”
“My favorite part of the job, though, is the people I am privileged to work with,” he continues. “They are passionate, and they love to excel at their work. We all work together to leave a legacy with the forest for other generations to follow. That is tough to beat.”
David learned to love the outdoors when he was growing up in Wisconsin, fishing and hunting with his father and brothers. When he was old enough, David started out in the working world as a machinists’ apprentice, but soon learned that he much preferred working outdoors. An economic downturn in the 1980s prompted David to leave factory work behind and go to college. He earned his bachelor’s in forest management from the University of Wisconsin, and went on to earn his masters degree in forestry from Virginia Tech. He has worked in private, industrial, and public forestry sectors throughout the nation ever since.
“I had some great mentors when I was getting into forestry,” he states. “Men like Tom Fox from my Virginia Tech and Rayonier days, Brent Keefer (currently the president of Hancock Timber Resource Group), Professor Jim Johnson from the University of Wisconsin and later Virginia Tech—they all taught me so much. I also learned much about applied forestry from my brother Jeff who is one of the best “dirt” foresters I have had the privilege of working with. I have many professional mentors in my current career too. I have really enjoyed working with Roger Jansson, IDL’s Operations Chief- North for 43 years running, and (current IDL Director) Tom Schultz, who I have been able to work with both in Montana and in Idaho.”
David first came to IDL from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation in 2008. One of his first accomplishments in Idaho was to create a forest asset management plan, a massive undertaking which boosted harvest levels from 212 million board feet to 247 million board feet over three years. The gross revenue from the sale of timber on endowment lands is generally between $50 million to $80 million a year. The majority of this revenue goes to support K-12 public education in Idaho. Because the sale of timber represents over 80% of the total revenue generated from the management of endowment lands, IDL continues to look for ways to strengthen this core program and increase revenues from timber and other programs over time.
David cautions those looking to get into forestry that “not every day is perfect weather. Get used to being uncomfortable in the woods, because most days you will be wet, or cold, or too hot, or scratched up in the brush. It is hard work and it’s not for everyone!” He also adds: “Forestry isn’t just about being out in the woods by yourself. You always have to work on your speaking, writing, and listening skills. It is important to be able to communicate with others, because you will spend a lot of time telling your story and the story of the science of forestry and forest management.”
In his free time, he enjoys spending time in the woods, hunting, hiking, fishing, riding horses and camping. As for the secret to his success at work; “I have a passion for what I do,” David says. “I love forestry.”
Want to know more:
Learn about the Idaho Department of Lands:
Learn about forestry at the Idaho Department of Lands:
Learn about forestry tools:
Learn about jobs in forestry:
Learn about State Foresters:
Learn about the Idaho Land Board
Learn about Idaho’s Endowment Lands:
See a report on lands managed by the Idaho Department of Lands