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Jan W. Van Wagtendonk ( Cave Junction 1960 )

posted: Aug 15, 2022

Jan died July 15, 2022. He earned a bachelor’s in Forestry from Oregon State, a master’s in Range Management from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley. Jan, a Captain, was in the Army from 1963-67 with the 101st Airborne and served in Vietnam. Jan was a research scientist for the National Park Service in Yosemite N.P. 1968-74 and held the same position with the U.S. Geological Survey 1975-2001.

His areas of research included prescriptions for burning in wildland ecosystems, recreational impacts in wilderness, the application of geographic information systems to resources management, and the role of fire in Sierra Nevada ecosystems. Jan was one of the authors of the first federal fire policy in 1995. “Jan was a strong advocate for returning fire to the Sierra landscape. His pioneering use of prescribed fire in the early 1970s in and around the Mariposa Grove started us on the path to reestablishing an ecological balance lost in over 100 years of fire suppression,” the park service said.

Jan jumped at Cave Junction 1960-61 and at Fairbanks 1962.

August 13, 1961, Jan (“Yoohan in CJ language), and I jumped a fire on the Rogue N.F. He hung up way over 100 feet in a Doug Fir that was easily four foot in diameter at the base. In later years he would not admit it, but we cut down that tree to get his chute. C. Sheley)