Despite the expected intensity of this year’s fire season, it’s an exciting time for Kacey KC, as she is the first female to be declared acting state forester within the Nevada Division of Forestry.
Before KC, there were seven state foresters in Nevada. Her promotion as interim ensued when former state forester, Joe Freeland, resigned in October 2016 following the Little Valley Fire. She became acting as of April.
She served as deputy administrator for a year before she was selected to the new role.
“I feel excited for the opportunities ahead of this team,” she said. “We have time to grow from past experiences and perfect what we do. It’s an exacting time to move forward.”
This past week has been a busy one for KC with the recent wildfires near Brunswick Canyon, Topaz Lake, and Truckee. KC said she’s worried about this year’s fire season, as the area’s wet winter produced a large amount of cheatgrass.
However, the NDF hired more seasonal firefighters — 37 recruits statewide — compared to what they had in the last three years.
As part of preparations, KC said one of her main goals is to continue to build the training program and achieve national standards, in order to ensure quality protection statewide.
“The fires are here but we’re on top of it,” she said. “We’ve kept the fires small, along with our other teams.”
KC began her career at NDF in 2002 after graduating from the University of Montana, with a bachelor’s in forestry resource and conservation.
But two years before that, she was serving as community forester in Nepal as part of the Peace Corps.
In a country that’s almost the same size as Tennessee, she worked with local groups and helped developed plans to manage land, as forests there were degraded by landslides.
During her time there, KC also lived with a host family, learned Nepali, and met her husband.
“I learned way more from those in Nepal than they learned from me,” she said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today without that experience. Working with a different culture and environment helped me develop my skills and ability as a forester.”
KC describes herself as a family-orientated person. She returned to her home in Gardnerville, where she graduated from Douglas High School in 1995.
KC said she always knew she wanted to pursue forestry, especially when she received a scholarship in forestry in high school.
“I’ve always enjoyed the open spaces and natural resources in Nevada,” she said. “I’ve spent a majority of my career at NDF and I’m excited to make a difference.”