Al Waston reconnects with Kern River roots

Ranger Watson readies to return to Kern River Ranger District after serving a seven-month detail for the Olympic National Forest

(Rigo Moran)
(Rigo Moran)
Mid Valley Times Staff
Published January 22, 2024  • 
11:00 am

SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK – In a recent announcement, the Sequoia National Forest service is thrilled to share the news that District Ranger “Al” Alfred Watson will be making his return to his post as District Ranger for the Kern River Ranger District.

Ranger Watson’s recent journey has taken him on an adventure, as he’s been serving as the Acting Forest Supervisor for the Olympic National Forest since May 22, 2023. With his return, Watson will resume overseeing a diverse array of programs within the Kern River Ranger District, including range management, special uses, timber, wildlife, recreation and fire management. 

His eagerness to reconnect with the district is palpable, according to a news release from the Sequoia National Forest service.

“I’m looking forward to returning to the Kern Valley and re-engaging with the employees, communities and collaborative partners,” he said via the release.

Before becoming a part of the Sequoia National Forest in 2013, Ranger Watson’s career took him to the awe-inspiring Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, where he served as the District Engineer. With a background as a wildland firefighter, land surveyor and private industry experience, Watson brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to his role.

Throughout his forest service career, Ranger Watson has made an impact in various National Forests, and his return to the Kern River Ranger District is undoubtedly an event to look forward to for the entire community. 

Amid Watson’s absence, Arvind Bhuta stepped into the ranger’s shoes to take on the role of Acting District Ranger for seven months. However, now Bhuta is set to embark on a new adventure as the Forest Mapping and Accomplishment Portal Program Manager in Cooperative Forestry’s Landowner Assistance Program in Washington, DC.

Ranger Watson had high praise for Bhuta’s dedication, saying in a news announcement that he appreciates Arvind’s willingness to serve as the Acting District Ranger for the Kern River Ranger District while he was away. 

“His leadership contributed to delivering Forest and District priorities to the public, including reducing wildfire risk to our communities, and improving forest health across the landscape,” Watson said.

Reflecting on his time as Acting District Ranger, Bhuta shared his heartfelt sentiments as he served as the Kern River Ranger District’s Acting District Ranger – something he described as an honor.

“Over the last seven months, I have developed a deep respect and connection with the communities, leaders, partners, Forest Service staff, and the landscapes we manage here,” Bhuta said via the release.

Bhuta continued with, “This opportunity has also furthered my adoration for the Sierra Nevada and its peoples and added to those memories of when I first worked in these landscapes for the Army Corps of Engineers over a decade ago. As I return to my position in DC, I will always cherish the area, the many heartwarming memories, and the people that call this region home.”

The Kern River Ranger District, nestled around the picturesque Isabella Lake in the Sequoia National Forest, offers some of the most breathtaking outdoor experiences in Southern California. From world-class whitewater rafting to contributing timber for the forest’s timber program, this district is a treasure trove for nature enthusiasts, according to the Sequoia National Forest service.

Mid Valley Times Staff