Cook right at home as ANF Deputy Forest Supervisor

Chris Cook has come home.


The “new” Allegheny National Forest (ANF) Deputy Forest Supervisor actually took up his post on Jan. 29 of this year. Cook graduated from Kane Area High School, holds a bachelor’s from Gannon in Anthropology, and a master’s from Texas A&M in Nautical Archaeology. Cook grew up in Mt. Jewett, on the eastern edge of the ANF, and began his career of service to the federal forest service at the Marienville Ranger District.

Cook has returned to the region from the Nevada State Office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Reno, where he served as Branch Chief for Non-Renewable Resources. His responsibilities there included policy, budget, and workload management in the areas of planning, National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), cultural resources, tribal consultation, recreation, wilderness, renewable energy, and lands and realty.

Aside from the Marienville Ranger District and Nevada’s BLM, Cook has a range of experience from being a U.S. Army paratrooper, underwater archaeologist, university lecturer, restaurant manager, lab supervisor, and guest researcher. He’s spent time with the Center for the Study of the First Americans and the Center for Maritime Archaeology in Rosklide, Denmark.

“I am endlessly grateful to be back in the area,” said Cook of his move back to his home region, “not only to be closer to family but also to have the opportunity to aid in providing vision and guidance for the Allegheny, the backyard where I grew up.”

The position of Deputy Forest Supervisor is a bit nebulous in terms of actual duties, said Cook on Friday. “We’re actually kind of trying to define that right now, but basically it makes me an alter-ego of the Forest Supervisor.”

Since January, Cook said, he’s been working on more administrative types of things like budget and hiring issues. But the “highly variable” position could find him helping to administer ANF programs, getting hands-on in the woods, or working directly with those who use and recreate in the ANF. It all just depends, said Cook, on what the need is at any given time.

So what brings a Kane native back to Warren, and his career full circle?

“I wanted to come home,” said Cook. “I had my eye on this forest since around 1995, when I worked as an archaeologist in Marienville.” Cook also cited his multi-generation Pennsylvania family, with a father who was a state trooper and a heavy footprint in the commonwealth overall, as the main force driving him here. In truth, said Cook, the ANF has always been the ultimate plan for him. “My path in grad school took me out west,” he said, but “the plan has always been to get back here. I missed the woods.”

Cook said that he’s enjoyed his time back in the ANF, adding that while Nevada was great and he “sort of got used” to the climate and environment there, he’s very much looking forward to a classic Pennsylvania autumn in the forest where he grew up. “It’s great to be back in the woods,” he laughed, adding that so far, his work in the ANF “has been everything I hoped it would be.”