Gila County Sheriff's Deputy Leonard "Ski" Kerszykowski was awarded Thursday with a certificate of appreciation from the U.S. Forest Service's Law Enforcement and Investigations division.
The two agencies work in concert to protect Gila County forests.
But for about eight months during the recruiting and training process, the Forest Service was without an enforcement officer here.
"We couldn't effectively police and protect the national forest without the county," said Captain Larry Heady of the Forest Service's law enforcement division.
"They are really the big players. Our job is primarily natural resource protection. The county helps us go beyond that and provide public safety services to the public."
Kerszykowski, who has worked with the sheriff's office for six-and-a-half years, seems humble.
"I was just doing my job," he said.
"He (Kerszykowski) is a very valuable asset to the sheriff's office and a privilege to work with," the sheriff's office wrote in a news release.
The award was presented by Sheriff John Armer and U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Officer Dan Adams from the Tonto National Forest.
The forest's major crime fighting efforts focus on squatters, kids partying, fishermen without licenses and wood stealers, Kerszykowski said.
While the filled vacancy "takes a lot of the burden off," Kersyzkowski said the tight collaboration will continue.
"We couldn't do the job that we're supposed to do, protecting the natural forest, if we didn't have the help of Gila County deputies like Ski," Heady said.