- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 12, 2019

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - An associate director with The Nature Conservancy in New Mexico has been chosen as the first woman to lead the state forestry division.

Laura McCarthy’s hiring was announced Monday by the Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, which oversees the division.

McCarthy will be the 11th state forester since Ray Bell, who was the first to hold the post in 1958 and was known for caring for Smokey Bear the iconic cub.

McCarthy started her career as a wildland firefighter. She has more than 25 years of experience in forestry-related work, including for the U.S. Forest Service and the Forest Guild.

McCarthy will oversee 75 full-time employees and more than 300 seasonal firefighters and will be responsible for fire suppression on 43 million acres (174,014 square kilometers) on non-federal, non-municipal, non-tribal lands.

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