Wilton Simpson taps Rick Dolan to head Florida Forest Service
Waccasassa Forestry Center. Image via Facebook.

Waccasassa Forestry Center
Dolan most recently headed the Waccasassa Forestry Center.

Agriculture Commissioner Wilton Simpson is appointing Rick Dolan as the new State Forester and Florida Forest Service Director.

“With his decades of experience, and proven leadership and emergency management skills, I am confident that he will successfully lead the Florida Forest Service into the future,” Simpson said. “Failure is not an option when it comes to protecting the state. It’s a critical job and Rick’s servant leadership and team-oriented approach make him perfect for the job.”

Dolan served the last nine years as manager of the Waccasassa Forestry Center in Gainesville.

He’s also been part of the Florida Red Incident Management Team for 20 years, rising to an incident commander. That has put him on national response teams that dealt with wildfires in Oregon, Washington, North Carolina and other states. He also has been part of hurricane responses across the country.

Dolan began his career in the Florida Forest Service in 1993 in Perry as a forest ranger. He later worked as a senior ranger at Goethe State Forest in 1996. Dolan’s LinkedIn page shows he has worked at the operations administration level within the Florida Forest Service since 2010.

Dolan also has served as president of the Friends of Florida State Forests, a nonprofit directing charitable support to the state forest system. The nonprofit was created by state statute to support state forest programming. Dolan was president of the 2021-22 board of directors.

The largest division of Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the Florida Forest Service has more than 1,200 employees, roughly half of them firefighters. The service manages over a million acres of state forests for public uses including recreation, timber and wildlife habitat preservation.

Johnny Saba until now has acted as Florida’s State Forester. He previously worked under Erin Albury, the Florida Forest Service Director appointed by former Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried in 2020.

Simpson recognized Albury’s service when she retired in January.

“I thank Erin for faithfully serving the Florida Forest Service and the state for more than 25 years,” Simpson said then. “I appreciate Erin’s steadfast leadership and tireless dedication to defending our communities and natural spaces, and I wish him well in retirement.”

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • tom palmer

    April 5, 2023 at 11:41 am

    Sounds like a good choice

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