Ibsen says goodbye to Sullys Hill, Lake Region

Louise Oleson, Editor
Tom Ibsen, standing, gives a presentation in the large classroom of the Sullys Hill Visitors Center. Tim Loose, pictured on the left, will be assuming many of the director’s duties until a full time replacement is found for Sullys Hill.

It is obvious that Tom Ibsen has a great deal of affection for Sullys Hill and the Lake Region as he leaves to move to the Pacific Northwest, to start a new job there on Monday, Aug. 13 with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“The people of this community have made my job so easy because of their affection for Sullys Hill Game Preserve. You don’t have to convince them to come,” Ibsen said.

It wasn’t an easy decision for the Ibsens to make, leaving Devils Lake and Sullys Hill, according to Tom, but  he and wife Heather felt they needed to move closer to her family in Oregon and Washington. An opportunity opened up with the Corps which ends up being a promotion for Tom, so they decided this was the time to make the move.

Ironically, Ibsen will be working with another former Sullys Hill Manager, Joe Maxwell, who works at one of the sites that he will be consulting with in Washington.

“I’ve received many telephone calls and messages from people who have heard that I am leaving,” Ibsen said.

That’s another reason why they are sad to leave the area, both of the Ibsens have remarked about how friendly, warm and welcoming the people of the area have been to them.

When asked what was the most difficult to deal with as manager of Sullys Hill, Ibsen said the only thing that was tough was all the road construction which made it difficult to get to Sullys Hill for everyone.

Ibsen will be working as a Natural Resources specialist for the Corps and living in Walla Walla, Washington. In that capacity he will advise a number of field stations on projects and exhibits.

“I’ll be back to visit,” Ibsen said, “This place will always be special to me.”

In his time here he has seen some major changes including the expansion of the geo-thermal wells for the heating and cooling of the Visitors Center, a paved accessible trail near the Visitors Center, installation of the solar panels that help provide power to the site and the completion of the outdoor amphitheater. He’s also been instrumental in expanding visitor and educational services, improved infrastructure at the reserve, expansion of the Friends of Sullys Hill group and an environmental education project with CMS which will begin later this month.

 “It’s tough to leave now that the construction is nearly finished on the highway here and this education project is starting, but whoever they find to manage this site will be getting a plum position. This is one of the premier destinations for eastern North Dakota,” Ibsen said.

In the meantime Tim Loose will be assuming many of Ibsen’s duties. Loose works with wetland management in the area and has an excellent background in visitor services, according to Ibsen.