Payson Ranger District’s head ranger is trading the world’s largest stand of ponderosa pines for the world’s oldest known pines.
Last week, Ed Armenta announced he would be leaving the Tonto National Forest division to serve as forest supervisor for Inyo National Forest in California.
Inyo is home to Mount Whitney, Mammoth Lakes, two ski resorts, Mono Lake and the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest.
The Great Basin Bristlecone Pines rank as the oldest trees in the world with one tree, the Methuselah, standing at 4,800 years old in an undisclosed portion of the Inyo forest.
The Forest Service has not set a reporting date for Armenta, but it is anticipated he will start in the spring. Armenta replaces Jim Upchurch, who transferred to the Coronado National Forest in October.
Armenta said he has mixed feelings about leaving Rim Country, but “it is time to move on.”
Armenta has served with the Tonto National Forest since August of 2000.
During his tenure, Armenta said he accomplished many goals including beefing up the fuels reduction, bark beetle and brush pit programs.
Through prescribed burns, Rim Country communities are now better protected from future forest fires, he said.
“This had been a big issue when I arrived,” Armenta said. “Now, we are leading in fuels reduction.”
One success story is Pine-Strawberry. When Armenta started, both comminutes were listed as high risk for a devastating fire. Now, neither community is on the list with prescribed burns removing thousands of acres of vegetation.
In California, Armenta said he faces a host of new challenges. The area is a popular playground for residents, but high visitation is also hurting the land.
Forest Service officials said Armenta is particularly strong in working collaboratively with others to find common ground solutions.
During his last 10 years as district ranger for Tonto, Armenta also acted as forest supervisor for both the Lincoln and the Kaibab national forests.
Born and raised in Southern California, Armenta graduated from Humboldt State University in 1983 with a degree in wildlife management. He started working for the Forest Service as a wildlife biologist trainee on the Plumas National Forest in 1981, and moved to the Sequoia National Forest in 1990.
He was promoted to deputy district ranger on the Prescott National Forest before coming to Tonto National Forest.
“I spent much of my early years fishing, camping and hiking there (Inyo) with my family, and it has been a lifelong dream to live and work in the Eastern Sierra,” Armenta said.
“I am delighted to be selected as the supervisor of one of the most beautiful national forests in the nation, with the huge abundance of recreation opportunities that it offers.”