Los Padres National Forest officials announced on Thursday the selection of John “Pancho” Smith as the new Santa Barbara District ranger.
Smith is currently a district ranger on the Croatan National Forest in North Carolina.
Smith will replace Doug Dodge, who retired last month after serving as the Santa Barbara District ranger since 2009. In the interim, Bruce Emmens is managing the district’s day-to-day operations.
“Pancho has spent his entire career working to protect natural resources on public lands,” Los Padres Forest Supervisor Peggy Hernandez said. “He has demonstrated a strong commitment to fulfilling the Forest Service mission, and has an extensive background in fire and law enforcement that will serve him well in his new position.”
During his 40-year career in federal service, Smith has held a number of law enforcement positions with the Forest Service and the Arizona Game & Fish Department. From 1971 to 1982, he worked as a seasonal fire employee in wilderness patrol and fire prevention. He has also been an engine crew member, engine foreman and fire crew foreman. From 1982 to 1991, Smith served as a game range manager for the Arizona Game & Fish Department before returning to the Forest Service as a law enforcement officer.
From 1996 to 2001, Smith was a supervisory law enforcement officer for the national forests in Minnesota and Wisconsin. From 2002 to 2008, he held the position of special agent of the Forest Service’s Southwest Region, and from 2008-2011 Smith served as the regional patrol commander in the southwest region.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1980 from the University of Arizona-Tucson in range management, with an emphasis on wildlife. Smith has also completed numerous other training courses, including the Federal Law Enforcement Training Academy in 1992.
“I am looking forward to joining the Los Padres, and working with the people of Santa Barbara and the many visitors who come each year to enjoy these incredible public lands,” Smith said.
He will report for duty July 30.
— Andrew Madsen represents Los Padres National Forest.