There are a lot of countries smaller than the area John Wessels oversees as Director of the National Park Service Intermountain Region. It covers eight states, borders Mexico and Canada, and includes such iconic places as Grand Canyon and Yellowstone, and more than a dozen parks and national monuments in Colorado.  Wessels took the job in August, after years of working in other public agencies.  He was never a park ranger patrolling trails and meeting campers. His expertise is in finance and information systems.

Says Wessels: "I think my role is more like a conductor, where I try to bring in the best folks in natural resources and cultural resources, and science and finance and facility management and pull those folks together in such a way that we're able to make decisions that represent what's best for the service as a whole."