Forester Roger Nichols retires
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Roger Nichols has retired as Morgan County forester after 25 years of service with the Alabama Forestry Commission. His last day on the job was Dec. 21
Nichols, 49, was appointed to the position in August 1981. Previously, he worked for six months doing clean-up work following Hurricane Frederick and was attached to the Northwest District forestry office in Northport for 18 months.
A native of Rome, Ga., Nichols spent his childhood years in Carrolton, Ga., and his teenage years in Northport. He is a graduate of Tuscaloosa County High School and holds a bachelor's of science degree in forest management from Auburn University.
Nichols said he has no definite plans for the future but is open to part-time work as a forestry consultant. "I am looking forward to being able to do some things I have always wanted to do," he pointed out. "I plan to learn how to play a fiddle and speak conversational Spanish. I also want to work on my bike riding skills and participate in a century ride and spend some time camping with my family.
"This job requires you to be on call 24 hours a day, seven days and week and 365 days of the year," he said.
"You have to work your life around it. It has a way of interrupting family life. I've never been called to a convenient fire. Being able to plan things and follow through without interruption is something I welcome."
Nichols said he will miss the day-to-day contact he has with fellow workers and volunteer firefighters.
The organization and development of rural volunteer fire departments in the county in the 1970's and 1980's made a big difference in fire prevention education and keeping destructive wildfires to a minimum, according to Nichols.
"When I arrived here the Forestry Commission and rural communities were working hand- in-hand to organize volunteer fire departments. Many of them were able to acquire a surplus military vehicle and equip them as fire engines. Volunteers were called out with a ring down telephone system. Strong community support and a property tax earmarked for fire service led to many improvements. Today, the fire departments have equipment and personal gear that is equal to what you'll find in many municipal fire departments."
Nichols said the relocation of the forester's office from the former Agricultural Services Center in Hartselle to a new building in Decatur in 1999 was a big improvement.
"We doubled our office space and had a building in which to keep vehicles and equipment for the first time. That has saved a lot of money on maintenance," he pointed out.
Nichols and his wife, Suzanne, have three children, Randall, 26, Adam, 21, and Deborah, 13. They live in Hartselle.