Mike Schlafmann left the Inyo National Forest this week, and for the outdoors types, it was like a star disappearing from the sky.
Schlaffman, the deputy district ranger who worked on the Inyo for 10 years, is headed for the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest outside of Seattle.
In the words of Mammoth District Ranger Jon Regelbrugge, “Our loss is their gain.”
“I was his manager, but I never knew if I was managing him, of it he was managing me,” retired Inyo supervisor Sandy Hogan said of Schlafman.
Schlafmann got a big-time sendoff Wednesday night at the Mammoth Lakes Town Council meeting, then delivered a farewell address.
“Having an opportunity to work here was like a dream come true,” he said.
“Perhaps to my discredit, I’m not particularly motivated to move up the ladder in the agency. I am particularly motivated about working with people who want to do challenging things and take on problems, find the solutions and work together.”
Among the parade of people who addressed the council on Schlafmann’s behalf were councilman John Eastman, Stacy Corless of Friends of the Inyo, MLTPA leader John Wentworth and former staff planner Bill Taylor.
But it was Schlafmann himself who stole the show.
Dressed in a suit rather than the familiar Forest Service green and yellow, Schlafmann said working next to a metropolitan area would offer challenges he simply hasn’t seen here.
But, he said, his experience on the Inyo has prepared him well.
“There are three-and-a-half million people in the Puget Sound Area and I think they’re going to be hard pressed to match the spirit of the community we have here.
“In reality, all I can do and all I have done is, hopefully, to open up some doors to other folks. All of this happened because of the community and the people in it.
“If nothing else, I want to say, keep this community together.”