BALDWIN — A new face can be seen at the Baldwin/White Cloud Ranger Station for the Huron-Manistee National Forest. When it comes to managing Lake County’s vast forest land, Jake Lubera, the new district ranger, brings years of expertise to the table.

“I have oversight of 250,000 acres of federal land in Lake and Newaygo counties,” Lubera said. “We have a very diverse management program for fuel reduction and timber production. We also see significant public use, so we have a great public recreation program, working with several partners. Our district also has a great wildlife component.”

Lubera, a native of Buffalo, N.Y., has been working with the U.S. Forest Service for years.

“I grew up outside of Buffalo and went to school for forestry at the University of Maine. My father was a forester in a small town near Lanester. I wanted to walk in his footsteps and continue the tradition. I have taken it one step further with federal land management. I worked trail crews and fire crews in the early 2000s and have been all over the country. I am coming to you folks from Joseph, Ore.”

One of the big projects Lubera is helping to oversee is restoration of the Karner Blue Butterfly.

“The Karner Blue Butterfly is a listed species and we are making great strides to restore their habitat,” he said.

Another task he oversees is prescribed burns, which reduces hazardous fuels, minimizes spread of insects and disease, removes foreign plant species, provides forage for wildlife, places nutrients back in the soil and promotes the growth of trees, wildflowers and other plants.

“There are two components to prescribed burnings. One is fuel reduction and the other is ecosystem management. Some forested areas work very well with fire. The result depends on intensity of the fire. We will sometimes do a ground burning after a timber sale to clean up brush,” he said.

Lubera already feels at home in Lake County.

“The landscape in Lake County is very similar to where I grew up in New York,” he said. “The main difference is we don’t have a sand base at home, but we have a Great Lakes environment and the same tree species. It reminds me a lot of home. I also love the good Polish food available here. I am from a Polish Catholic family and love the traditional homemade Polish meal such as pierogi and sausage when I am back at home.”

Another aspect of Lake County Lubera is fond of is the people.

“I am impressed how welcoming the people here have been to me. I work with a great staff — hardworking productive go-getters. I am looking forward to learning about the area and working with these folks.”