May Gray Repartee

I don’t know about you but I’m sick of hearing from all these men.  Local femme extraordinaire Heidi Anderson was kind enough to take some time between picking thorns out of bear paws, running off poachers and spelunking the depths of Los Padres Forest to chat with us:

1.  Official title and main responsibilities?

    Wilderness/Trails Manager for the Ojai Ranger District.     Manage the trails program including volunteers and contractors (i.e. the CREW & California Conservation Corp)
2.  How long have you been with the forest service.  How did you start?

    My government career began in 1982 as a seasonal backcountry ranger for Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park.  My twenty-two years with the government include working for the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management and the National Forest Service.  Positions include: wilderness ranger, wilderness/trails manager, visitor center manager, hydrologist technician, public affairs assistant, federal women’s program manager and administrative assistant.
3.  Aside from the normal upkeep of forest service trails are there any big projects in the works or in the near future?

    We are working on a proposal for a loop trail on the Agua Blanca/Potholes Trails and better access for the public.

4. You are currently an Ojai resident, formerly from Eastern Sierra.  What do you miss most about the Eastern Sierra, what do you like most about Ojai vs. Eastside.

   I lived twenty-one years in the Eastern Sierra between Mammoth Lakes and Lone Pine.   The two things I miss the most are the incredible friendships and the amazing mountains.  What I like most about Ojai is the beauty, small town feeling and the close proximity to the ocean.

View of Mt. Whitney from Lone Pine

5.  Favorite dining spots in Ojai

     Emporium, Bonnie Lu’s, Boccali’s.
6.  Scariest moment you’ve ever had out in the woods?

    Crossing Matilija Creek in 2005 when the rivers were exceptionally high.

Matilija 2005 (Thanks David Magney)

7.  Favorite trails?  Most scenic?

      Howard Creek, Reyes Peak and Gene Marshall Piedra Blanca from Haddock Camp to Pine Mountain Lodge Camp.
8.  Any pet peeves regarding the users of forest trails?
Leaving trash and the graffiti (especially in Santa Paula Canyon)


9.  Favorite California destinations outside of our area?
Channel Islands – any of them

10.  Most miles hiked in a single day?  Longest time spent in the wilderness consecutively?  Farthest from “civilization” you’ve camped?
21 miles when I worked in Kings Canyon in my younger days.  Longest time: 12 days       Farthest from civilization: 20 miles

Kings River

11.  Indispensable food/drink for a camping trip?

Real coffee

 12. Luxury food/drink if someone was willing to carry it for you?

Cantaloupe or ice cream
13.  What other local organizations do you support or work with?
Ojai Valley Land Conservancy, Surfrider, Channel Islands Restoration and Inyo County Animal Resources and Education.

14.  Favorite native plants/trees/flowers?

     Tiger Lily & Dudleya

Tiger lily

15.  Plants/weeds that make trailwork a living hell…

  Yucca and spanish broom

Yucca "Our Lord's Candle"

16.  Advice for young people who are looking to make a career of the forest service?
This is a tough one to answer with the declining budgets and elimination of positions.   Education and volunteering in the field of their interest.

17.  Do you hunt/fish/track wildlife at all?

  I love to fish in the high lakes in the Sierra Nevada.   Prefer native fish over stocked.
18.  Favorite local mammal/bird/fish/insects/reptiles?

     Dolphin, bobcat and swallowtail butterfly


19.  Ways for people to get involved, help the forest service, protect their local habitats?
Practice “Leave No Trace” principles whether you are spending a couple of hours or several days on public lands.  Be mindful of weather conditions including heat, cold and precipitation forecasts.   Volunteer on a local trail project on the First Saturday of the Month Trail Days; contact me for more info.

Thank you Heidi!  Please contact her at

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