The story of the Red Rock Ranger District is rooted in its archaeology, which makes new district ranger Nicole Branton perfect for the job.
Branton has worked as an archaeologist for the U.S. Forest Service for 14 years, including on the Coronado National Forest near Tucson while she completed her schooling at University of Arizona.
“I was raised doing applied archaeology at the same time I was studying academic archaeology,” Branton said. “So I like to say that I was raised as an archaeologist in the Forest Service.”
Branton’s career journey has taken her to Illinois, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona and New Mexico. She spent the last 12 years as an archaeologist on the Arapahoe and Roosevelt National Forests and the Pawnee Grasslands in northern Colorado, as well as an adjunct professor at Colorado State University.
She also did “details” as a Capital City Coordinator on the Fort Pierre National Grassland in South Dakota, and spent time last spring in Washington, D.C., at the National Forest Service headquarters working on the agency’s strategic plan.
Branton said that, even though she enjoys archaeology, her interests have evolved in recent years.
“I just felt that I was more interested in the bigger picture with the Forest Service, and the way that we’re relevant to local communities and the people, and managing the resources and making them available for people,” she said. “So it really makes sense for me to be here — this is really my dream job.
“It kind of pulled together, for me, a lot of different things from my career.”
For the full story, please see the Wednesday, Nov. 20, issue of the Cottonwood Journal Extra and Camp Verde Journal.