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New Second-Generation Superintendent at Great Sand Dunes National Park Returns to Her Roots


Lisa Carrico, newly appointed superintendent at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. (Bottom photo): Dunes, Crestone Peaks and Cleveland Park in Great Sand Dunes National Park. Photo by NPS/Patrick Myers.

Father-daughter duos as National Park Service superintendents are a bit unusual, but Lisa Carrico will bring some uniquely personal connections to the job when she assumes her new post early next month at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.

The second-generation NPS superintendent is "coming home" to a park where she once lived as a teenager when her own father served as its superintendent.

“I am honored and excited to have been selected for Great Sand Dunes,” Carrico said. “I first came to this great park in 1969 when my father was selected to be superintendent when it was Great Sand Dunes National Monument. In fact, the house we lived in back then is now the park headquarters building – and my new office will be in what was once my family’s living room!”

“I have returned to visit the community there in the San Luis Valley numerous times since then. Needless to say, I am thrilled to be returning to a park that I truly love. I look forward very much to working closely with the staff, local communities and park partners.”

Carrico is a graduate of Sangre de Cristo High School in Mosca, Colorado, just outside the park. She attended Adams State College in nearby Alamosa for two years before transferring to The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, where she earned a bachelor's degree in anthropology. After graduation, she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ghana, West Africa.

 “Lisa’s diverse skills, experience and expertise will ensure the successful management of Great Sand Dunes,” said Intermountain Regional Director John Wessels, who announced Carrico’s appointment. “She has demonstrated a commitment to accountability, transparency, and working closely with our park partners to further the mission of the Park Service and accomplish community conservation objectives.”

Carrico is a 28-year veteran of the Service, and is completing a tour as superintendent of Tumacacori National Historical Park in southern Arizona. She began her Park Service career as secretary for the Division of Research and Cultural Resource Management at Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado.

Her other posts include Scotts Bluff National Monument in Nebraska, Colorado National Monument in western Colorado, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin, Big Bend National Park in Texas. Carrico has also served as acting superintendent at Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona and acting chief financial officer at Grand Canyon National Park.

In her new role, Carrico will manage a park and preserve of 149,512 acres and oversee a staff of 22, with an annual operating budget of more than $2.2 million. The park protects the tallest sand dunes in North America, but there's a lot more here than just sand. The area also includes the high alpine watershed of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and important archeological and cultural sites and hydrological features.

It's a fine place indeed for a homecoming.


Hi Lisa - 
Congratulations on your appointment. We'll be down on the 17th. I was wondering where your Carrico relatives  are from. I am related to Carricos from Virginia, and it isn't a very common name. Several of them made it out to Colorado in the early 1900's. My husband grew up around the Sand Dunes, and it is one of our favorite places. Patrick Myers is one of our friends, and my husband Budd just finished talking to him on the phone. We are looking forward to meeting you.

Carolyn and Budd Rice
great oputhoreNathrop, CO 

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