District Ranger Office supports chamber and in several different ways, Ranger says

The U.S. Forest Service’s Norwood District Ranger Office is a member of the Norwood Chamber of Commerce, and according to District Ranger Matt Zumstein, the office is supporting the local economy in several ways.

The U.S. Forest Service, of course, is in charge of managing the local forests, keeping them healthy for the public and the environment. Zumstein’s office manages local trails, like the Thunder Road Trails project in Norwood — a trails system that was established three years ago and that has brought tourism to the area.

Zumstein, who has been ranger for the last two years and previously specialized in recreation, said he’s committed to improving the area’s trails. Already, his crews have established new foot bridges in Thunder Road Trails in the last year to go over ditch crossings there.

“And we are always evaluating minor re-routes and the tread surface,” he said. “We are proud, and that’s the type of thing we want to expand upon in Norwood and the West End.”

He said he’s working with various user groups and local governments to focus on regional trails and to add more single-track to the existing system.

(He said he is also anticipating the finishing of the Burn Canyon Trails project, which is managed by the BLM. He said he’d love to see those trails connected to other regional trails, too.)

Zumstein said his office joined the chamber in order to stay more informed of what is happening in the local area. Additionally, though, he said his office supports local business.

It has a partnership with the San Juan Mountain Association, an organization that sells gift items and other things that are forest-related, and the they’ve established a retail space in the Forest Service building.

Zumstein said the U.S. Forest Service building has become a sort of visitor center for the town, one where people naturally tend to stop by for information. He said his office can help promote or sell items, like guidebooks and souvenirs, if they are related to forestry. He said the Mountain Association folks provide the inventory, and they give a percentage back to the District Ranger’s Office.

He said he has no problem with others leaving business cards or those who may want to sell their things, too, provided the items also relate to the U.S. Forest Service in some way.

Other ways of supporting local commerce in the area includes the permitting process: Zumstein said he regularly permits the filming of movies and commercials on U.S. Forest Service land. That includes the permit he recently gave the Cohen Brothers so that they could shoot a Netflix series locally.

Zumstein also grants other permits that help support businesses in the area; for example, grazing permits and fuels (wood-cutting) permits. Anyone who cuts wood on U.S. Forest land to personally use or sell must have a permit on file, and Zumstein said the Forest Service is supporting local economies with timber.

He said overall his office is working with the chamber to stay involved.

“So we are on the chamber to have knowledge of what’s going on, and it’s another avenue for us to get in the loop. This is an opportunity for us to share too,” he said.