State Legislature Honors 1986 Aspen High School Graduate

The Colorado Legislature recently gave special recognition to John Markalunas, a 1986 graduate of Aspen High School, for his work in the field of fire management.

Markalunas received the Colorado State Forest Service’s 2020 Partner of the Year Award for his role as a Bureau of Land Management Fire Management Officer. The legislature commended Markalunas for his work with a certificate presented to him on February 23.

“John Markalunas has been an outstanding partner of the Colorado State Forest Service and the Salida Field Office for more than 15 years,” said Adam Moore, supervising forester for the Salida and Alamosa field offices, in a statement. “John’s work in resource and fire management has helped improve the health of Colorado’s forests and watersheds. His expertise and knowledge of fire and forestry are unmatched.

Markalunas earned his BS in Ecology and Conservation Studies from the University of Colorado Boulder and worked in fire and fuels mitigation for 30 years with Boulder County, the US Forest Service and BLM.

Markalunas’ work with the state Forest Service over the years has included several fuel reduction projects implemented under the Good Neighbor Agreement, assistance in the development of several Community Protection Plans against forest fires and support for fuel reduction subsidies, among other achievements.

“I am very flattered to be recognized by the Colorado State Forest Service – these people are doing an amazing job,” Markalunas said in a statement. “They are a great partner to work with, whose mission aligns with my role at BLM in fire and fuel mitigation.”

The Good Neighbor Authority, authorized by the Farm Bill of 2014, allows the BLM to enter into cooperative agreements with states to carry out forest, range and watershed restoration projects on federal lands. It enables the sharing of limited resources to achieve landscape-scale treatments that mitigate fire risk, improve forest health and reduce risk.

“Interagency partnerships, such as the Good Neighbor Agreement, increase the effectiveness of forest and range health initiatives across borders, said Cathy Cook, Rocky Mountain District Manager at BLM. “John recognizes the need to work with partners to improve the quality and quantity of work that can be done. I am so proud of John’s work and recognition.

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