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Who's Being Mentioned For Director of the National Park Service?


With Ken Salazar the pick for the Obama administration's Interior secretary, it's time to turn to the question of who will be the next director of the National Park Service.

Among the names being circulated are Mike Finley, who, among other postings, served stints as superintendent at Everglades, Yosemite and Yellowstone before deciding in 2001 he couldn't work for the Bush administration; Dan Kimball, current Everglades superintendent, and; Jon Jarvis, the Park Service's Pacific Region director.

Odds are more names will surface in the weeks ahead. Whoever gets the job, let's hope they're strong leaders interested in stewarding the parks and not afraid to speak out when politics infringes on that stewardship. And let's hope the Interior secretary let's them do their job and not tell them what decisions will be made.


Are nominations being accepted?
I nominate Gayle Hazelwood.

Editor's note: Who is Gayle? Read this article for some insights.

I like Michael Finley. But your rumor about the reason he retired is bunk. He's not that weak.

While I like these career NPS employees, I do not think that is what the NPS needs. The NPS needs someone politically connected and Washington savvy to raise the issues and needs of the bureau. The last few Directors have all been competent, experienced, park managers. That's not what the NPS needs in the top job. Let the career professionals handle that. Get a Director who has a high profile, a knack for managing the media, and a knowledge of a political insider. The most successful Directors, like Connie Wirth and George Hartzog, were masters at managing the politics of the Congress and Executive Branch to get the NPS what it needed. That is needed now, more than any time since the post-WWII period. The parks will suffer badly against all the other demands of the nation and someone who is an administrator, however competent, is not going to make things happen.

Rangertoo, I'm struck by the parallels with academia, which is full of competent drudges who run departments, institutes, programs, and even a few universities here and there. Competent drudges get down there in the trenches and do the work, but they are completely replaceable -- just cogs in the machinery -- and are quickly forgotten after they've served out their time.

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