Grand Canyon National Park gets new superintendent

ST. GEORGE — Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona has a new superintendent, one National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis said  brings leadership and an “outsider’s perspective” to the park service.

Jarvis recently appointed Christine S. Lehnertz to replace former park Superintendent Dave Uberuaga in August.

Lehnertz comes directly from Golden Gate National Recreational Area in northern California, the park’s news release said, where she has superintended for a little over a year.

“Together with the staff and managers at the park, I look forward to keeping up momentum on the important conservation, preservation and operational activities at the Grand Canyon,” Lehnertz said.

Lehnertz started her conservation career in the Rocky Mountains after training as an environmental biologist and graduating University of Colorado at Boulder. In Colorado, she worked as a seasonal wildlife biological technician for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, the U.S. Forest and Fish and Wildlife services.

A 16-year stint with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency followed before Lehnertz joined the park service in 2007 as deputy superintendent for its Pacific West Region.

“Since she joined the NPS,” Jarvis said, “she has helped us think differently about conservation, preservation, employee engagement and public collaboration.”

Lehnertz acknowledged recent sexual harrassment issues reported at the Grand Canyon. According to an April news report by Grand Canyon News, an investigation by the Inspector General’s Office identified 13 former and current National Park Service employees reporting sexual harassment and misconduct by their coworkers and supervisors over a 15-year period on the Colorado River district.

Uberuaga publicly took full responsibility for the issues during a presentation to over 200 river guides and operators in April, GCN reported, saying he had not taken appropriate action.

“Regarding the sexual harassment issues that we’ve learned about,” Lehnertz said, “Grand Canyon National Park now has a responsibility to lead the National Park Service in eliminating the factors that have allowed such behaviors. Staff and managers are already working hard to change the working environment there to ensure that the Grand Canyon is a respectful, inclusive place to work and visit.”

Sue Masica, intermountain regional director, said Lehnertz is the right choice for the job. She said:

Grand Canyon National Park connects people to the land and water in an incomparable and inspiring way. We have asked Chris to lead the organization at the Grand Canyon in order to strengthen our employees’ connection to the critical NPS mission, and to ensure that we all perform our duties with integrity and to the highest ethical standards. Chris brings a deep commitment to these standards and will help the National Park Service to fulfill them at the Grand Canyon.

Chris and her spouse, Shari Dagg, and their cat Choco, are looking forward to settling in, the park’s news release said. They will be living on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon this autumn.

About Grand Canyon National Park

Grand Canyon National Park receives close to 5 million visitors each year and includes over 1 million acres of land. The park is 277 miles long, featuring a canyon carved over millions of years by the Colorado River. Grand Canyon is known throughout the world for its intricate and colorful landscape. According to the park’s news release, the oldest human artifacts are nearly 12,000 years old and there has been continuous use and occupation of the park since that time.

Eleven traditionally associated tribes are actively involved with the National Park Service at the Grand Canyon.

About the National Park Service

More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 412 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. To learn more visit National Park Service online.

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Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • .... August 8, 2016 at 10:10 pm

    This is great news for the G.C.N.P she is more than qualified and experienced in this field. the right person has definitely been picked two fulfill this position of leadership and responsibility. ..kudos. !!!

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