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Ava/Cassville/Willow Springs Ranger District Transitioning Leadership

AVA, Mo. (March 5, 2019) – District Ranger Joe Koloski has accepted a new position within the Forest Service, and the Ava/Cassville/Willow Springs (ACW) Ranger District of Mark Twain National Forest (MTNF) has a new Acting District Ranger on the way.  Koloski will be moving to Morgantown, West Virginia to continue serving the public as Field Representative with Northeastern Area State & Private Forestry; and Cody Lunsford will be coming from Kentucky to serve as the Acting District Ranger.

Koloski had been the ACW District Ranger since 2014.  His career prior to MTNF took him across multiple states (Colorado, Mississippi, and Alabama) working for a variety of entities (Forest Service, National Wild Turkey Federation, and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe) as a biologist and natural resource specialist.   All this experience, coupled with his time on the ACW Ranger District, prepared him well to serve as a field representative with the State and Private Forestry mission area of the USDA Forest Service.

During his time on the district, he oversaw many important projects, including the ecological restoration of glades and the improvement of forest health in large portions of the wide geographic-unit he was tasked with managing.  Koloski led his team with natural resources in mind.  He focused his staff’s attention on the glade ecosystems and restoration of natural communities within those areas.  During his time as Ranger:  citizen science events were held in the glades; invasive cedar encroachment was abated in many areas; road improvements were completed along Glade Top Trail; and an educational, electronic tour of Glade Top Trail was also created. 

“I am very proud of the team I was able to be a part of on the ACW,” stated Joe.  “They rose to every challenge and usually exceeded my expectations of providing excellent public service,” he continued.  Even during emergencies, like last year’s Rozell Fire, District personnel were quick to respond and be there for the communities they serve.

Joe was not only dedicated to serving the public through conservation of Missouri’s natural resources, but was also an avid outdoorsmen.  He and his family enjoyed hunting, hiking, and farming while in Missouri.  

“I am excited for my next opportunity; but it is tough leaving Missouri,” stated Joe.  

He and his family began section hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2012 when their oldest son was seven years old.  

“I can see us coming back to visit and hiking the Ozark Trail in the future,” Joe commented. 

He added that he will also miss working with the dedicated personnel on the Ranger District and with the partners that helped the Forest Service accomplish its mission.

Cody Lunsford will serve as the Acting District Ranger of the ACW beginning March 11. 

Lunsford comes to MTNF from the Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky, where he oversees the natural resources and fire programs as a Staff Officer. He earned his degree in Rangeland Ecology Management with an emphasis in Prescribed Fire from Oklahoma State University.  

Lunsford has been employed with the USDA since 2004. He began his Forest Service career on the Coconino National Forest in Flagstaff, Arizona as a wildland firefighter; and since then he has been employed with both the Forest Service and the Natural Resource Conservation Service.  Lunsford has a strong passion for prescribed fire and natural resource management. He has been fortunate enough to be able to utilize his knowledge and skills in both government settings and for the private agricultural sector in many different parts of the country.