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Isle Royale National Park; partnered with tribes, states, and nonprofits in moving bison to broader landscapes; and worked on two major new unit startups. He also oversaw the completion of the largest public/private partnership project in NPS history, a $380 million dollar renovation of the St. Louis Arch grounds and museum. Recently, he sat down with Yellowstone Forever to discuss his background and his thoughts on the future of the world’s first national park.
Cam Sholly SUPERINTENDENT, YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
How did growing up in national parks influence your decision to join the National Park Service? Growing up in the parks has given me an affinity for how special our parks are. The National Park Service has one of the noblest missions in the world, and our parks set the standard globally on a variety of different fronts, especially from a conservation/preservation perspective. It’s a combination of that affinity for the parks and my appreciation for what the National Park Service does that gave me the desire to protect that mission as well as help achieve it. What was it like working on the Gateway Arch project in St. Louis? It’s the largest public-private partnership in NPS history, and something special and fulfilling to be a part of. It was well in motion before I got there in 2015, but the role I played was bringing the conglomerate of partners together in a more cohesive way and getting the project completed, from ground-breaking to ribbon cutting. The project is a great example of how partners can come together and is indicative of the future of the National Park Service and how we leverage efforts with our partners to accomplish great things. Also, with $250 million in private/corporate donations and $120 million of funding raised through a local tax increase, it also signified the value people place on parks in that they’ll donate large sums of their own money to improve their parks.
Cameron (Cam) Sholly’s appointment as the new superintendent of Yellowstone National Park is a homecoming in many ways. The grandson of George Sholly, a former park superintendent, and son of Dan Sholly, who was chief ranger in Yellowstone during the 1980s, Cam attended high school in Yellowstone at the Youth Conservation Corps camp (the Gardiner School was closed due to fire) and did two stints working in the park. After graduating from Gardiner High School, Cam served in a variety of capacities in the US Army and was deployed to Operation Desert Storm. He began his NPS career in Yellowstone working for the maintenance division in the Lake District. He later moved to Yosemite National Park as a backcountry ranger and supervisor in Yosemite Valley. Over the past 15 years, Cam’s career has included assignments as the chief of ranger operations in Yosemite, superintendent of the Natchez Trace Parkway, and associate director for visitor and resource protection. Prior to becoming the superintendent of Yellowstone, Cam served as the regional director for the Midwest Region overseeing 61 NPS units located in 13 states. As regional director, Cam returned wolves to
Why are partnerships so important? We have financial and operational capacity, and regularly that capacity doesn’t allow us to do everything that we need to. The support of partner organizations provides an incredible network of outreach and marketing to help us get important projects done that would not get done, and it also allows us to do these projects in much bigger and better ways. What are your first impressions of Yellowstone Forever? I would say impressive, considering this current construct has been developed in a relatively short amount of time