Leadership change coming to Superior National Forest as Connie Cummins set to retire
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Outdoor News

Leadership change coming to Superior National Forest as Connie Cummins set to retire

There was rarely a ‘normal day’ for Connie Cummins in her role as the top supervisor for Superior National Forest.

“Every day is different. And that’s what I love about the job,” Cummins told WTIP in a recent interview. “There is variety. And so, is there a normal day? There really isn’t. It’s a big forest, there’s a lot going on in so many different program areas. It’s well loved by so many people, so many people are interested in it.”

After leading the expansive Superior National Forest for the U.S. Forest Service for the past six years, Cummins is set to retire at the end of the month. Her last day is July 30.

Cummins was very familiar with the complexities of Superior National Forest – which includes the entire Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness – long before she arrived to her current post in 2016. She served as a district ranger on the La Croix District for nine years. Previous to becoming the supervisor at Superior National Forest, Cummins also worked on the Fremont-Winema National Forest in Lakeview, Ore., where she severed as the forest supervisor for approximately two years.

When it comes to leading what is nationally-known as one of the most complex national forests across the country, Cummins said the job leading Superior National Forest was both rewarding in that regard, though not without its challenges.

“It is complex. And it this does get a lot of attention beyond just the state of Minnesota,” she said. “II just think it’s because so many people love it, and so many people are interested in it that it just gets a lot of attention.”

Among the notable decisions or issues Cummins faced during her tenure are the proposed expansion of Lutsen Mountains, the complete closure of the BWCA in 2021 due to wildfires, a quota reduction for permits in the BWCA for the 2022 paddling season, campsite closures due to bear activity in the wilderness, copper-nickel mining on the edge of the wilderness, just to name a few.

Shannon Rische, currently the deputy forest supervisor on Superior National Forest, will serve as acting forest supervisor until someone is hired permanently to replace Cummins.

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Cummins about her time leading Superior National Forest and career with the U.S. Forest Service. Audio below.