Featured Presenters

Arthur “Butch” Blazer
President, Mescalero Apache Tribe

Arthur “Butch” Blazer currently serves as President of the Mescalero Apache Tribe located in south central New Mexico. Butch was raised on the beautiful one-half million acre Mescalero Apache Indian Reservation and is recognized nationally as a leader in Indian Country. President Blazer has extensive experience in working with Federal, Tribal, and State entities, as well as non-profit organizations and has held various executive management and leaderships positions over his 32 years as a public servant.

In 2011, President Obama appointed Butch to serve as Deputy Under Secretary of Agriculture for Natural Resources and the Environment within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) where he provided oversight and direction to the U.S. Forest Service until May 2016.

Butch served as the first ever Native American State Forester, appointed by former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson for 8 years and led the development of a successful Healthy Forest and Watershed Health Plan for the State of New Mexico. He brought a tribal perspective to the National Association of State Foresters and assured that tribal issues and concerns were addressed at the national level.

Butch also served as Natural Resources Manager for the Mescalero Apache Tribe, having oversite of important reservation natural resources and was elected and served two consecutive terms on the Mescalero Apache Tribal Council in the late 1990’s.

On June 28, 2016, Butch received one of the greatest honors of his career. He was presented with the Presidents Lifetime Achievement Award for Volunteerism, signed by President Barack Obama.

Butch graduated from New Mexico State University (’75) with a BS Degree in Range Science.

Robert H. Ziel
Fire Analyst, Alaska Fire Science Consortium, University of Alaska Fairbanks

Growing up in the eastern forests of the United States, first in the Appalachians of southeastern Kentucky and then on the drift plains of southern Michigan, Zeke has been fortunate for a career that allowed him to observe and analyze the physical, biological, and human processes that have molded wildland landscapes. A 1975 graduate in Forestry from the University of Michigan, he spent nearly 37 years working in Michigan for the Michigan DNR, as a consulting forester, and as the program manager for the Lake States Fire Science Consortium. First cruising timber, mapping forest cover, and planning forest practices. Then, following weather and managing fire here in the Lake States. And finally, encouraging the use of science and technology in decisions. This fostered opportunities to learn and practice fire assessment and analysis throughout the country as a Fire Behavior Analyst (FBAN) and Long Term Analyst (LTAN) for national incident management teams. These skills led Zeke to Fairbanks, Alaska in 2013, serving initially as the Fuels and Fire Analyst for Predictive Services at the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center for 4 years and now as the Fire Analyst for the Alaska Fire Science Consortium.

Shawna Legarza PsyD
Director, Fire and Aviation Management, USDA Forest Service

Shawna was raised on a cattle ranch in Northern Nevada and entered the firefighting profession as an engine crewmember for the Bureau of Land Management. She has 30 years’ experience in fire and aviation management and has held numerous leadership positions in a wide variety of regions for both the Bureau of Land Management and the USDA Forest Service. These positions include Hotshot Superintendent, District Fire Management Officer, and Forest Fire Management Officer. In addition to her fire experience, she worked at the World Trade Center 9/11 recovery efforts, Hurricane Rita and the Greensburg Tornado, with significant contribution to agency leadership in fire management. Shawna is qualified as a Type 2 Incident Commander, Prescribed Fire Burn Boss, and Operations Section Chief. Shawna has a Doctorate in Psychology, a Master of Science in Kinesiology and a Bachelor’s of Science in Exercise Physiology. Shawna is a graduate of the National Wildland Fire Apprentice Program Academy 4.