MANHATTAN — Jason Hartman, the assistant fire management officer for the Kansas Forest Service for the past 15 years, has been named the new state forester for the agency, effective Dec. 29.

Hartman succeeds Larry Biles, who served as leader since 2008. Biles’ recent retirement marked the end of a distinguished career in forestry that spanned four decades.

The Kansas Forest Service serves Kansas citizens with such programs as conservation tree and shrub planting, fire management, community forestry, rural forestry, marketing and utilization and forest health.

Hartman will lead a staff of 30 employees located in the agency’s headquarters on the Kansas State University campus in Manhattan, as well as several local and district offices across the state.

In his previous role, Hartman led an effort to assist local fire departments, schools and other organizations to educate the public about wildfire hazards through such programs as Smokey Bear and Firewise USA, which is sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association.

Among other duties, he was coordinator of the Kansas Prescribed Fire Council, and he has supervised 30 part-time fire protection specialists in Kansas who are available to respond to fire emergencies in Kansas or nationally. He has helped train fire departments in Kansas to conduct wildfire hazard assessments and assisted landowners to reduce wildfire hazards while maintaining a natural setting.

“Larry Biles leaves behind a legacy of service that will be a challenge to live up to,” said Hartman, adding that he feels confident in “the talented staff at KFS who will continue to expand our legacy of service to the people of Kansas.”

For more information about the Kansas Forest Service, visit www.kansasforests.org.