Diana Craig has worked for the U.S. Forest Service in the Pacific Southwest Region for more than 20 years, starting her career on the Tahoe National Forest as a volunteer working with bald eagles. It is not a coincidence that she has spent most of her calling working directly on projects with animals -- her true joy. After stints as a forest wildlife biologist, regional wildlife ecologist and many other positions in the region, Diana currently serves as the deputy director of Ecosystem Management in the regional office. She earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in wildlife biology from San Jose State University.
What is the greatest joy of your job?
I’ve always wanted to work with animals. I miss getting out doing that work in my current position, but I get energy from working with people and our dedicated partners.
Is there a particular project you are particularly satisfied with?
Yes, the Sierra Nevada Forests Management Indicator Species Forest Plan Amendment. This project, which was challenged in court but was upheld, standardized the Management Indicator Species list of 10 national forests to include 13 species, such as black-backed woodpecker, mule deer, sage grouse, yellow warbler, fox sparrow, and macro invertebrates among others. The process was analyzed in a methodical way with public outreach and the Forest Service worked with partners for a proposal that made sense and then worked with partners to implement monitoring for these species. It felt good to have something so meaningful come out of the concept.
You mentioned you enjoy working with other agencies and organizations. Can you offer an example of partners working in synergy?
Absolutely, I have been working on the California Landscape Conservation Cooperatives steering committee for the past two years. The committee is made up of non-governmental organizations and state and federal agencies. Their goal is to look at landscape scales and to improve the link between science and management in how to maintain ecosystems in the face of climate change, urbanization and other stressors. The cooperative has facilitated a number of projects, including looking at where sensitive ecosystems are headed with climate change and which species and species habitat are the most vulnerable. We look at where the highest needs are and work together to not duplicate efforts. It has been fun to be a part of this process.
How did you meet your husband of 28 years?
I met Bill while attending San Jose State University for my master’s degree. He assisted with my thesis project on the food habits of mountain lions, coyotes and bobcats. We had to collect scat to study under microscopes and he was willing to go out and help me with it. I knew he was a keeper.
What do you do in your spare time?
I like to go bird or mammal watching. I made a trip to Africa and visited Kenya, Tanzania and the Seychelles Islands to see oceanic birds. I’ve also been to Costa Rica. I also enjoy reading a good book or watching an old movie.
Who has had the greatest influence on you during your life?
My family probably had the most influence on my life, particularly on my choice of career. I grew up with regular visits to my grandparent’s ranch which was set within the mixed conifer forest in the Sierra Nevada foothills of California. This shaped my life-long love of animals and the out-of-doors. My family regularly went camping, and my parents were brave enough to take three kids all under six years of age on tent-camping trips to dispersed areas in the Rocky Mountains. In my teen years, my dad took my brothers and me on back-packing trips in the Adirondacks and other mountain ranges in New England.
What are you most thankful for?
I am most thankful for being able to support and raise my family while working on a career that I love. The Forest Service and each of my supervisors have been so family friendly for the breadth of my career. I have felt extremely supported in the raising of my son and helping my husband while having the pleasure to work with wildlife, wonderful colleagues and exciting partners! Being able to balance my family with my career is an incredible privilege that I am grateful for every day.