Shawn Soliday is one of four DNR Northeast Region staff who received the Commissioner’s Award for Public Service this year. The awards are presented annually by Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark to recognize DNR employees for outstanding job performance. Shawn and his colleagues were honored for always answering the call to fulfill DNR’s wildfire mission. In the nomination submitted by a DNR Northeast Region assistant manager, the four deserved special recognition for “taking initiative and acting decisively and competently on several adverse and demanding Type 3 wildfires last year.”
Shawn wears two hats at DNR, dividing his time between the leasing program and fire control, where he serves as a Type 3 Fire Team Incident Commander, instructor, and in a number of other fire positions for the region which oversees DNR activities in Ferry, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Spokane and Stevens counties and the northern half of Lincoln County. He’s worked at DNR since his teens, when he was first hired as a seasonal firefighter. This year will be his 35th fire season. Over the years, Shawn has also worked as a forester and rangeland manager, and for the last 15 years, as an agricultural and grazing land manager.
“I’m that thing known as Institutional Knowledge,” he says with a laugh.
Soliday says his two favorite parts of the job are working with his DNR colleagues, and working with farmers and ranchers.
“I have some great lessees,” Shawn says. “They are good managers willing to do what it takes to care for the bunch grass community.”
He said DNR and ranchers share the goal of keeping rangelands healthy and productive. Experts and ranchers alike know that sustainable management of grazing land is both an art and a science.
Shawn credits the lessees for using adaptive management to find the right duration and intensity of grazing, which has resulted in highly productive, sustainable range lands. Shawn is especially sensitive to the fact that many of the operators leasing state trust parcels know the land far better than he does.
“I respect their skills and history with the land when explaining the science of resource management,” he says.
It’s been a tough few years in the region. At the same time that Northeast Region experienced back-to-back record fire seasons, Shawn has taken on the management of additional leases.
“It’s overwhelming sometimes,” he notes, adding that he appreciates the support and friendships with other DNR staff, whom he refers to as his DNR brothers and sisters.
“The best part of my job is my work family and the relationships we’ve built,” Shawn says.
Despite the challenges, Shawn Soliday approaches both fire control and land management duties with the same positive attitude, diligence, and dedication. Thanks for all you do Shawn!
By Kathleen Beach, Natural Resources Specialist, Agriculture Administration Unit, DNR Southeast Region