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Jocassee wildlife technician who worked two natural disasters wins statewide honor

Award named in memory of stellar technician
March 15, 2017

Ken Forrester, a wildlife technician with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) who worked on a hurricane and a massive mountain wildfire in 2016, was recently named the Eric Mortensen Memorial Wildlife Technician of the Year.

Ken Forrester, of Greer, who works for SCDNR in the Jocassee Gorges region, was a first responder during two natural disasters in 2016: Hurricane Matthew along the South Carolina coast and the Pinnacle Mountain Fire in northern Pickens County. He is shown holding the Eric Mortensen Memorial Wildlife Technician of the Year award. (SCDNR photo)

Ken Forrester, of Greer, who works for SCDNR in the Jocassee Gorges region, was a first responder during two natural disasters in 2016: Hurricane Matthew along the South Carolina coast and the Pinnacle Mountain Fire in northern Pickens County. He is shown holding the Eric Mortensen Memorial Wildlife Technician of the Year award. (SCDNR photo)

SCDNR has for a number of years selected a wildlife technician who has gone above and beyond as the winner of the Natural Resources Technician of the Year award. In 2016, Eric Mortensen won the award and left his legacy behind to inspire all SCDNR wildlife technicians who followed. Mortensen passed away from cancer later that year, and the award was named after him.

Ken Forrester, of Greer, who works in the Jocassee Gorges region, was a first responder during two natural disasters in 2016: Hurricane Matthew along the South Carolina coast and the Pinnacle Mountain Fire in northern Pickens County. Forrester first worked as a law enforcement officer on Interstate 26 during the lane reversal evacuation before Hurricane Matthew, and then afterwards he transported heavy equipment and supplies to the Lowcountry and worked countless hours providing relief in Hampton County.

Forrester worked many long days, including weekends and holidays, during the Pinnacle Mountain Fire. During the fire, he provided heavy equipment assistance, generated intelligence reports from the field, managed fire lines and provided invaluable assistance to the S.C. Forestry Commission. Forrester quickly gained respect and admiration from the S.C. Forestry Commission staff.

Mark Hall, the SCDNR land manager in Jocassee Gorges, said Forrester also works tirelessly during the black bear season in the South Carolina mountains.

"Ken has developed respect and an excellent relationship with the bear-hunting community," Hall said.

During controlled burn season, Forrester is always prepared, ready and willing to do what is required to manage a successful controlled fire, according to Hall. Whether it involves repairing equipment, getting equipment ready or preparing the burn sites for a safe and successful event, he is always up for the challenge. In early 2016, Forrester worked a solid 36 hours straight when meteorological conditions went awry during a controlled burn.

"He is a key person responsible for the successful burning program in the difficult, mountainous terrain of the Jocassee Gorges," Hall said.


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