Nikki Fried names Erin Albury new Director of the Florida Forest Service

Albury will replace Jim Karels, who is retiring.

With Florida Forest Service (FFS) Director Jim Karels set to retire, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried has selected Karels’ second-in-command to serve as his replacement.

Erin Albury, who currently works as Karels’ Assistant Director, will take his place.

Replacing Albury as Assistant Director will be Johnny Sabo, who serves as the agency’s Field Operations Bureau Chief.

The FFS is a division of the Department of Agriculture, which is led by Fried. The FFS is responsible for managing Florida’s timber and wildlife habitat and works to prevent and suppress wildfires on public land throughout the state.

“With Florida’s year-round fire season and nearly half of our state covered in forests, the Florida Forest Service’s wildland firefighters and foresters are a critical part of our Department family,” Fried said in a Friday statement announcing the leadership changes.

“Jim leaves behind an unparalleled legacy of leadership spanning nearly four decades of service, positioning Florida as a nationwide role model in prescribed fire and wildfire management. I am confident that my selection of new leadership will continue to go above and beyond the call of duty to protect lives, property, and our natural resources.”

Karels has served as Director for the past 12 years. He began working for the FFS back in 1985.

Albury, meanwhile, started at the agency in 1997 as the Citrus County Forester at the Withlacoochee Forestry Center. He joined the state office in 2016 as Field Operations Bureau Chief and took over as Assistant Director in 2018.

Sabo has been with the FFS since 2004, where he served in the Panhandle as the Calhoun and Liberty County Forester at the Chipola Forestry Center. Sabo stepped up to the state office in 2017 as the Forest Management Bureau Chief.

The agency is made up of more than 1,200 employees across the state and manages more than one million acres of state forests.

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected].


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