Assistant ranger retiring, but he’s not Osier the hill |

Assistant ranger retiring, but he’s not Osier the hill

RIFLE – Gary Osier discovered he wanted to be a forest ranger by visiting the library.

It was 1970 and Osier, then 22 and a native of Pittsburgh, had just been discharged from the military.

“I was trained to be a mechanic in the Navy,” he said, “but I couldn’t find a job.”

So Osier and his wife, Mary, trekked to the Carnegie Library and leafed through the Dictionary of Occupations looking for other career ideas.

“We looked through the listings, and forestry sounded fun,” he said.

With the GI Bill, Osier attended Pennsylvania State University and graduated in three-and-a-half years with a bachelor’s degree in forestry.

“I ate my lunch on some of those forestry courses,” he said, with a laugh. “Dendrology – that’s the study of trees – was rough. We had to I.D. 160 trees and plants by their Latin name, including correct spelling.”

On graduation, Osier accepted a U.S. Forest Service assignment in North Dakota.

“We knew it was somewhere up north, but Mary and I had to look on a map to see where exactly we were going,” he said.

From there, Osier transferred to Colorado, moving between districts in Creede, Del Norte and Frisco before taking a position at the Rifle Ranger District – one of seven districts in the White River National Forest.

That was 20 years ago. And now, though Osier is a spry 55-year-old, he’s retiring from his position as Rifle’s assistant district ranger and a forest minerals specialist in oil, gas and hard rock.

“Legally, I’m old enough to retire,” he said with a grin.

Friends and co-workers will gather this evening for his retirement bash.

It’s clear Osier has thoroughly enjoyed his time at the Rifle Ranger District. Ask him about the favorite part of his job, and immediately, the talk turns to local Forest Service history.

On a large Rifle Ranger District map, Osier shows the location of a German prisoner of war camp on the Clinetops during World War II. Then he explains the origins of the naming of Transfer Trail in Glenwood Springs, which occurred when a group of citizens walked the trail, physically moving the county seat from Carbonate on the Flat Tops down to Glenwood Springs.

He jumps up to retrieve historical maps of the White River Plateau Timber Reserve from 1891 and the Battlement Mesa Forest Reserve from 1892. They are two of the oldest forest reserves in the state – created even before the formation of the U.S. Forest Service in 1905. Portions of those reserves eventually became the White River National Forest’s Rifle Ranger District.

He’s also proud to be a charter member of the Northwest Colorado Oil and Gas Forum, an organization started in the late 1980s to provide a forum for landowners, government and industry representatives to discuss issues related to oil and natural gas development in the region.

Osier is retiring from the Forest Service but not from the world of work. He and Mary are starting their own company – H2Osiers – to supply potable water during fire season to active fire camps on national forest lands from Arizona to Wyoming.

The Osiers will also provide treated water to municipalities and other entities on a case by case basis.

“Right now, there aren’t many people dedicated to supplying drinking and shower water to these sites,” he said.

Osier has purchased a ’95 Mack truck with a 4,200-gallon tank formerly used to haul milk. He’ll use the truck to haul water, and Mary will drive the couple’s pickup with a fifth-wheel trailer attached.

“That’ll be home while we’re on the road,” he said. “We figure even if we just break even, we’ll see a lot of beautiful country.”

The Osiers will continue to be based in Rifle during their off-seasons, and especially during hunting season, since Osier is an avid hunter.

And after 32 years with the Forest Service, Osier is still proud of the agency.

“This is the premier Forest Service in the world,” he said. “Nowhere else in the world are there rules like the U.S. Forest Service that require renewable, sustainable resource management. Our rules make us grow it back.”

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518

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