Longtime forester Jacob Donellan named new East Texas Operations Department Head for Texas A&M Forest Service.
LUFKIN, Texas—Jacob Donellan, a former regional forester at Texas A&M Forest Service, was promoted to East Texas Operations Department Head. The East Texas Operations Department provides the crucial forest resource development and protection needed to keep the Texas piney woods region safe and productive. The A&M Forest Service promoted Donellan, who replaced Wes Moorehead, to Assistant Director of Forest Resource Protection. As East Texas Operations Department Head, Donellan commands East Texas Operations and will drive the agency’s forestry and firefighting efforts in the region.
“The job of the East Texas Department Head is to ensure that we’re meeting the agency’s two primary missions: to conserve and protect the natural resources for the state,” said Donellan. “East Texas Operations is the agency’s single source for both missions, and I love it.”
Fulfilling that mission requires East Texas Operations personnel, which covers 54 counties and 12 million forested acres. They provide technical guidance to landowners, teach conservation education in schools, monitor forest health, work with local communities on urban forestry and respond to wildfires and other all-hazard emergencies in East Texas and across the state.
Donellan’s 20-year career with the agency has prepared him for the expansiveness of his department’s mission. Divided into three regions, East Texas Operations has a north, central, and south, and Donellan has lived and worked in all three.
Donellan started with the agency in 2000 as the Best Management Practices (BMPs) forester in Linden, Texas, before moving into the district forester role for Huntsville. He most recently served as the regional forester for East Texas Operations’ central region.
As one of three regional foresters, Donellan was in charge of over 40 personnel in a six-district area—or about one-third of East Texas. His new leadership role is a much broader position that includes driving the direction of East Texas Operations.
“We’ve been doing East Texas Operations for over 100 years, so it has been sharpened to a very fine point in program delivery,” said Donellan. “What I’m interested in and what my goals are for East Texas are to continue delivering the highest quality programs in the agency and continue to be innovative when we can.”
Donellan is taking up the mantle at the cusp of a new generation of landowners, and he’s ready to meet them where they are.
“We’ll still conduct the person-to-person site visits but will leverage technology to start those conversations instead of landowners walking in the door, which is traditionally how those conversations are initiated,” said Donellan.
Current initiatives underway include the buildout of a one-stop land management application and development of digital management plans. The agency recently launched a web application, “My Land Management Connector.” It connects landowners with land management service providers, and neighboring landowners to save on land management services.
“We’re meeting the next generation of landowners where they are,” said Donellan. “And that may shift the way we do business, but that won’t shift the business that we do.”