The natural resource agenda for the 21st century in the U.S. Forest Service has given Fishlake National Forest Supervisor Rob Mrowka what he calls a huge challenge. He is temporarily being assigned to the regional Forest Service office in Ogden to work on the project. He will return to his post in Richfield after the special assignment is completed.

Tom Tidwell, district ranger for the Spanish Fork Ranger District of the Uinta National Forest, will serve as acting forest supervisor during Mrowka's absence. The special assignment will last about two months, according to Regional Forester Jack Blackwell, who tagged the Fishlake Forest supervisor for the task.Rob Mrowka is uniquely qualified for this assignment because of his extensive involvement with ecosystem management, Blackwell said. Mrowka was involved on a team during the late 1980s that developed strategies for what was termed New Perspectives, which served as the foundation for the current ecosystem-based management program for the Forest Service.

The Natural Resource Agenda, released in March, provides a vision for the long-term future of the Forest Service. It clearly identifies four specific areas that will receive added emphasis, including watershed health and restoration, forest road policy, sustainable forest management and recreation.

The Forest Service is going to look at new ways to measure management of public lands, Mrowka said. He said the agency needs to develop measurements of how well it builds partnerships and how it is doing working with communities.

Present measurements have to do with numbers of visitors, number of board feet of lumber harvested and things like that.

Mrowka said he has a longtime personal and professional interest in incorporating ecosystem principles in day-to-day Forest Service management and working with the public to develop understanding of ecosystem management.