On the night of Jan. 10, Molly Erickson received her 40-year anniversary pin at the Forest Service — Pacific Ranger District’s Annual Party. Dean Millett, District Ranger, presented the pin representing her achievement with the USFS.
“Forty years with one agency is quite a landmark that very few people reach. There has been a lot of change throughout that time she has witnessed. Her dedication to the forest and this district is greatly appreciated,” commented Millett.
Erickson began working as a seasonal employee in June 1973, though the FS recognizes her start date as Nov. 30 due to seasonal time off. That year, she began working out of the Forks office in erosion control with a lot of time spent fighting fires.
“Even though we had been out spreading seed all day, my boss at the time considered us ‘fresh’ because we hadn’t been working on the fires. I put in a lot of over time that first year,” she said.
“I really loved my timber days. I got to see a great deal of virgin country,” Erickson comments of her time in the forest with just a map and a compass. Time spent timber cruising allowed her to see much of the area before it was ever logged.
“Meeting my husband was the biggest part of my career,” explains Erickson of meeting Peter Breed on the job with the FS. However they didn’t work together for very long as Peter moved over to Rayonier and spent 33 years working there.
“In the past I’ve worn lots of different hats at the same time,” Erickson said. Today, her job titles are Forestry Technician, Special Uses Permit Administrator, and Public Service Manager. It seems she’s still sporting a few different hats.
Most people who have worked and volunteered in the FS lands on the West End know Molly Erickson. One of these FS volunteers is Larry Baysinger who has spent the last several years working with her on trails.
“Without Molly being here in this ranger district, this area would have little to no recreation services,” Baysinger explains.
“One of the biggest frustrations was getting people to realize recreation didn’t end at the Elwha Bridge,” Erickson said of her time in the recreation divisions of the FS. The West End has long been viewed as a “working forest”, something she has worked hard to fight against.
The familiar trail heads of Littleton/Mount Mueller, Klahowya, Bogachiel and Cooper Ranch have all benefitted from her advocacy.“I can tell you she’s been a real spearhead in terms of getting recreation going in this district. She’s worked very hard. Molly has hung in there through hook and crook to her credit. Most people don’t realize how hard it is to get stuff done for public recreation and multiple user groups,” said Stan Fouts.
He retired from the Pacific Ranger District in 1994 but will still do contract work for the FS when Molly asks him to help with trail engineering.
“I sincerely appreciate her efforts. Sometimes it is difficult for a private citizen to work with a government agency, but I have always enjoyed working with Molly,“ adds Baysinger.
Erickson in turn appreciates a great many individuals who have been a part of her career but hesitates to single any one person out.
“There are a lot of people who have helped. I really like it that a lot of our retirees still live here,” she is quick to add.