Don Dukleth inspects the conditions at the mill for worker safety.

Don and Riley Young of Northern Hydro Environmental Compliance talk at the project staging area.

Don briefs the mill site recording group before entering the lakebed near Road 2.

Don carries poles for probing mud for holes and mud traction.

The mill site recording group identifies artifacts in the drained lakebed.

Don and Steve Marsh of the United States Forest Service identify historic glass fragments in the drained lakebed.

Don marks logging debris for recording.

A Day in the Life of a Forest Ecologist

After a decade managing Southern California Edison’s 20,000 acres of forest land near Shaver Lake, it was natural for Forest Ecologist Donald Dukleth to take on his current role in Northern Hydro Environmental Compliance. With a degree in forestry, and additional training in archaeology, Don is well equipped to help ensure the company stays in line with state and federal environmental regulations.

“It can be tough playing the cop,” said Don. “If I conduct an environmental audit and I see something that needs improvement, it’s my job to make sure it gets fixed right away.”

A typical day for Don involves him at his desk, prioritizing and processing projects. He looks at the possible effects of a proposed project, identifies the steps to take to stay in compliance and submits documentation to entities such as the U.S. Forest Service or the State Historic Preservation Office to get the permits needed to move forward.

Today, however, a historic event is taking place. Shaver Lake has been drained to stream level (see related story) for the first time since the dam’s completion in 1927. Don will be accompanying a group comprised of archaeologists from Environmental Health & Safety and other areas, to assist in recording the historic mill site in the lake bed and taking an inventory of everything found, including key aspects of structures, such as construction methods and foundation measurements. Don is collecting GPS (global positioning system) coordinates to mark locations, and the data will be used later to create a map of the site. With the muddy soil conditions a hazard, Don also keeps everyone moving safely through the site.

“When a project I worked on is completed, and I see it works and didn’t hurt the environment more than needed, that’s the best part of my job,” said Don. “And hopefully I can get away from my desk a bunch along the way.”



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