North Carolina’s four National Forests, which together encompass more than 1.25 million acres, will be under new leadership starting Nov. 22.
James Melonas has been named the next forest supervisor for the coast’s 160,000-acre Croatan National Forest, and the Pisgah, Nantahala and Uwharrie national forests, the U.S. Forest Service announced Monday.
Before serving in his new role, Melonas had been forest supervisor since 2017 for the Santa Fe National Forest in New Mexico. Before that, he was deputy forest supervisor in North Carolina.
“The National Forests in North Carolina are a truly special place and I am honored to have this opportunity to return to North Carolina and the Southern Region of the Forest Service,” said Melonas in a statement. “I am excited to reconnect and meet with the incredible employees, partners, and volunteers in North Carolina as we work together to steward these wonderful forests.”
Melonas will be based in Asheville, where the supervisor’s office is located. He is replacing Allen Nicholas, who retired in September.
“The Southern Region is pleased have James return to North Carolina as its next Forest Supervisor,” said Ken Arney, regional forester for the Southern Region. “James is a strong proponent of partnerships and collaboration in the stewardship of public lands and his experience in the Southwestern Region has prepared him well to work with a diverse set of stakeholders.”
Melonas started his career with the Forest Service in 2005 as a presidential management fellow and has served in various staff and line officer positions at the district, region and national levels.
Melonas holds a Master of Public Affairs with an emphasis on environmental policy and natural resource management from the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Before joining the Forest Service, he served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Malawi.