“I have a lot of favorite parks, but I think Yellowstone is the flagship. It is a privilege to be here with the amazing team of National Park Service employees and also our partners.”
since the merger. The level of organization and number of people they have working across the country, combined with the strategic plan and high level of professionalism and talent that I’ve seen in my short time here is very impressive. It gives me great confidence in us continuing to do really good things in the future. It is great to see that there are supporters from 105 countries, demonstrating how much people value Yellowstone, not only in America, but around the globe. I’m looking forward to working with Yellowstone Forever to continue making transformational changes to this park. What are your thoughts on the educational mission of Yellowstone Forever? When you look at the NPS Organic Act there are three primary words that stick out: conservation, enjoyment, and unimpaired. In that enjoyment category, connecting people to parks is very important, and education is a big part of that. We have an operational capacity for programming and other educational activities, but Yellowstone Forever helps us take education to the next level and helps us connect people to parks in ways we wouldn’t be able to do otherwise. From funding for special initiatives revolving around education or for big capital projects like the new youth campus, now and in the future, we wouldn’t reach nearly the level we want to be at without that additional support from Yellowstone Forever. What is your vision for the park moving forward? We are in the process of developing a range of major priorities and objectives for Yellowstone. Our number one goal is creating an effective operational and financial framework that maximizes our resources and gives our
teams the tools they need to succeed. Another major focus will be to continue strengthening the Yellowstone ecosystem and its heritage resources. This includes everything from promoting large landscape conservation to protecting our cultural resources, bison, native fish, wolves, and other keystone species. We’ll also be focusing largely on better understanding and responding to climate change and its impacts on our resources. We’ll be making efforts to provide world-class visitor experiences, which includes understanding and responding to increased visitation, improving public safety and resource protection, and connecting people to the park through education, new technologies, and other means. We will continue building new coalitions and partnerships. This includes connecting with everyone from elected officials to gateway communities, as well as Yellowstone Forever, and even how the National Park Service works together internally. A last major focus is reducing the park’s deferred maintenance backlog and investing in Yellowstone’s infrastructure. Out of the National Park Service’s $11 billion deferred maintenance, $515 million of it is in Yellowstone, so a lot of improvements need to be made. That’s a lot to do. What is it like to be back working in Yellowstone? I have a lot of favorite parks, but I think Yellowstone is the flagship. It is a privilege to be here with the amazing team of National Park Service employees and also our partners. I like to think in terms of listening, learning, and acting. It’s been great listening to and learning from so many different perspectives, both from inside and outside the park, and we are starting to translate some of that into actions that will continue to move the park forward.
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