Jonathan Motsinger, former West Texas Nursery program leader at Texas A&M Forest Service, was promoted to Central Texas Operations department head at Texas A&M Forest Service.
Central Texas Operations provides crucial forest resource protection. It serves the largest portion of the state, covering both Central and West Texas, home to over 22 million Texans. Central Texas foresters monitor forest health, work with local communities on urban forestry, teach conservation education in schools, provide technical guidance to landowners and help with restoration projects.
During his 14-year career with Texas A&M Forest Service, Motsinger has served in multiple roles, giving him a broad perspective of the agency.
Motsinger started with the agency in 2006 as a forest inventory and analysis forester in Corpus Christi. In 2009, he transferred to the West Texas Nursery in Idalou, where he served as a regional forester and then as the program leader for the next 11 years.
As the department head, Motsinger will drive the mitigation efforts for wildfire, oak wilt and invasive plants by building on the department’s conservation initiative that incorporates components of stewardship, oak wilt management, watershed protection and restoration, and wildfire prevention and mitigation. At the heart of these efforts is the landowner.
“Our mission as an agency is to serve landowners and protect the forest resource,” said Motsinger. “And that’s what we’re doing with our oak wilt mitigation efforts and general stewardship and technical assistance that we offer in Central Texas.”
Central Texas mission
Motsinger faces adapting to a changing landscape in Central Texas as the population increases and many residents leave suburban areas in favor of rural life on subdivided “ranchettes,” increasing the need for wildfire mitigation and prevention efforts.
“My primary goal is meeting the needs of the landowners who we’re here to serve,” said Motsinger. “There are a lot of new rural landowners or ranchette owners who don’t know what to do, don’t know how to manage it, don’t know who to ask. That’s what we do.”
Monitoring forest health is one of the main components of the Central Texas mission.
Oak wilt, one of the most destructive tree diseases in the U.S., is killing oak trees in Central Texas at epidemic proportions. Central Texas foresters work with landowners and cities to diagnose oak wilt and slow its spread.
Regions in Central Texas are also dealing with an invasive tree pest, the emerald ash borer, EAB, that boasts a 99% ash tree mortality rate. So far, the tree pest has been found in Harrison, Marion, Cass and Tarrant counties. Central Texas foresters set traps each spring to track EAB’s spread. This year, EAB was also detected in Denton and Bowie counties.
Having served as the program leader for the West Texas Nursery, Motsinger is excited about continuing to be part of Central Texas’ restoration efforts.
The Central Texas Restoration and Recovery Program supports reforestation programs by providing landowners with seedlings that will grow well in Central Texas. Each year, seed is collected from native trees throughout Central Texas and grown at West Texas Nursery. These native seedlings are ideal for landowners who have been affected by drought, wildfire, flooding or diseases.
“Central Texas makes the agency better with the work we’re doing. We’re here to provide technical assistance and advice for Texans,” said Motsinger. “We’re who they call.”