- Associated Press - Friday, July 25, 2014

PIERRE, S.D. (AP) - A longtime South Dakota Agriculture Department official has been named state forester.

Gregory Josten succeeds Ray Sowers, who retired last May as state forester and state director of resource conservation and forestry. The two positions are being split, and the director position remains open, department spokeswoman Jamie Crew said Friday.

Josten has worked for the state since 1983 as fire management forester, forest stewardship program coordinator and supervisor of the service forestry programs.

“Greg has intimate knowledge of forestry and our treasured Black Hills,” Agriculture Secretary Lucas Lentsch, who appointed Josten, said in a statement Friday. “He also has a proven history of coalition building amongst stakeholders, and this makes him a clear choice to be our new state forester.”

Josten grew up in Sioux Falls.

“My interest in forestry stems from many family vacations to the Black Hills during my youth,” he said. “It was my Dad’s favorite place to go.”

Josten holds a bachelor’s degree in forest resource management and a master’s degree in forest science from the University of Montana. He also has worked as a seasonal firefighter for the state Division of Forestry and a contract forester for the Wyoming State Forestry division.

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