HSE - The Villager Leaderboard header

Home | Classifieds | Place Ad | Public Notices | Galleries | Kudos | Obits | Real Estate | Subscriber Services | Villager | Amazing Grapes | Yellow Pages | Contact Us
The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : the villager : the villager August 28, 2014

3/27/2014 2:17:00 PM
Red Rock Ranger District welcomes new Ranger, Nicole Branton
New Red Rock District Ranger Nicole Branton welcomes all to the Ribbon Cutting for the Red Rock Ranger District Visitor Center permanent Interpretive Displays. Photos by Eric G. La Price, Forest Planner
New Red Rock District Ranger Nicole Branton welcomes all to the Ribbon Cutting for the Red Rock Ranger District Visitor Center permanent Interpretive Displays. Photos by Eric G. La Price, Forest Planner
By Dorothy O'Brien
Special to The Villager

The first thing Nicole Branton says about herself, when asked how she became the Red Rock District Ranger in the Coconino Forest is, "I grew up in an urban setting in St. Louis, Missouri and my family didn't share a big outdoor life."

Ranger Branton discovered her love for the forest lands and open spaces as an adult earning her degree in Anthropology at the University of Southern Illinois in Edwardsville.

As an undergraduate, Nicole sat in on a lecture given by a Forest Service Archeologist who was describing the ancient sites found on exploratory trips into the wilderness areas of Utah.

The adventure of the search, the discovery of such rich heritage and the cataloguing of these treasures to preserve their stories, sparked a deep interest in Nicole.

The very next summer, Nicole worked as an unpaid intern for the Ashley National Forest searching out and recording ancient sites. Spending school breaks and summer vacations on projects while exploring and enjoying the forest lands became a significant pursuit for Nicole.

She went on to work for the Illinois Transportation Archaeology Project through the University of Illinois and for private archaeology companies in Tucson, Arizona.

The National Forests and the immense expanses of wilderness had left their imprint on Nicole and she advanced to Graduate School at University of Arizona, Tucson.

There, Nicole "fell in love with the Southwest," where she earned her Master's Degree and then a Doctorate in Anthropology from the University of Arizona.

Ranger Branton's first permanent posting, as a United States Forest Service Archeologist, was on the Coronado National Forest in Southeastern Arizona, serving for the next 12 years on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland as Forest Archaeologist.

Always listening and learning, Nicole describes her experience on the Arapaho-Roosevelt Forests as a transition of working through Archeology towards Stakeholder Collaboration.

In her experience she says, "The process of collaboration and working with Stakeholder Groups verifies the values and benefits of all parts of a given situation."

Nicole's depiction of "Landscapes and places (artifacts, ruins) as important to peoples and cultures" illustrates her understanding and commitment to exploring all sides of an issue concerning Public Lands, drawing out differing viewpoints, valuing all and helping communities to arrive at stronger solutions.

The National Forests on which Ranger Branton has worked have managed and negotiated mining interests, energy industry concerns, restoration, conservation and recreation, to name just a few concerns similar to the Red Rock District.

Immediately prior to the Red Rock Ranger District, Nicole served in Washington D.C., where she worked on the Forest Service's Strategic Plan and was involved in bringing awareness and information to Congress regarding issues affecting our Public Lands.

Ranger Branton expressed the challenges she faces when trying to articulate and make relevant important actions like the National Scenic Area Designation or preventing overuse and inappropriate recreation activities on National Forest Lands.

Ultimately, it was a tremendous learning experience and a challenge Nicole thoroughly embraced to make these very important concerns relevant to our Representatives in Washington D.C.

Reflecting on her first few months as Red Rock District Ranger on the Coconino National Forest, Nicole states, "...that striking the right balance between people's access for appropriate recreational use, preserving resources and maintaining pristine conditions is a great responsibility."

Nicole's experience with diverse communities of Forest Land users has taught her many valuable lessons. Most notably, working with the energy industry and fuel reduction projects, she learned to, "Challenge people to be part of the process and be part of the solution. People have access to the land, love these lands and the vast majority want to be good stewards, so come to the table. It will provide a more satisfying solution."

Nicole explains that this is really her "dream job." All her experiences, her enthusiasm and passion for the collaborative process seem tailored to the current situation on the Red Rock Ranger District. Forest Management Plan Revision, National Scenic Area Designation, Multi-user Trail Planning, three million annual visitors and the Red Rock Pass would be enough for any of us, but Nicole Branton, Red Rock District Ranger, flashes a brilliant smile and embraces the challenges inviting us all to the table for strong solutions.

For information about what is happening on the Red Rock Ranger District: www.fs.usda.gov/coconino

Dorothy O'Brien is the Past President of the Big Park Regional Coordinating Council and Director of the Celtic Harvest Festival. She can be reached at festivaldirector@celticharvestfestival.com

    Recently Commented     Most Viewed
Education advocates continue 'Yes, Yes' campaign (4 comments)
Vacation rentals issue shakes up Jerome council (4 comments)
Letters: Water policy and sustainability only real issues that should count (2 comments)
Death by overdose? (3 comments)
UPDATE: Doug Ducey wins Republican nomination for governor (3 comments)

Article Comment Submission Form
Comments are not posted immediately. Submissions must adhere to our Use of Service Terms of Use agreement. The email and phone info you provide will not be visible to the public. Rambling or nonsensical comments may not be posted. Comments are limited to 1700 characters or less. In order for us to reasonably manage this feature we may limit your comment entries to five(5) per day.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Last Name:
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.

Advanced Search

HSE - Villager Back home button
HSE - We want to hear from you
Find more about Weather in Cottonwood, AZ
Click for weather forecast

Submission Links
 •  Submit your feedback about our site

Find It Features Blogs Celebrate Submit Extras Other Publications Local Listings
Classifieds | Place Ad | Galleries | Kudos | Real Estate | Subscriber Services | e-News | RSS | Site Map | Find Verde Jobs | Contact Us
Yavapai College - Newsletter 2

© Copyright 2014 Western News&Info, Inc.® The Verde Independent is the information source for Cottonwood and Verde Valley area communities in Northern Arizona. Original content may not be reprinted or distributed without the written permission of Western News&Info, Inc.® Verde News Online is a service of WNI. By using the Site, verdenews.com ®, you agree to abide and be bound by the Site's terms of use and Privacy Policy, which prohibit commercial use of any information on the Site. Click here to submit your questions, comments or suggestions. Verde News Online is a proud publication of Western News&Info Inc.® All Rights Reserved.

Software © 1998-2014 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved