Employee Tapped To Lead NPS Office In Denver Quits, Latest High-Profile Parks Exits

July 26, 2018
Photo: Loch Vale Trail In Rocky Mountain National Park
The Loch Vale Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, where composer Stephen Lias had an artist residency in 2010.

The superintendent of Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Lizette Richardson, was recently asked to lead the National Park Service's Intermountain regional office in Denver. 

But the Jackson Hole News and Guide reports Richardson — like the regional director she was to replace, Sue Masica — rejected a transfer ordered by Secretary Ryan Zinke's Interior Department, and will instead end a long career of working for the federal government.

Lake Mead spokeswoman Christie Vanover says Richardson "notified her employees (Tuesday) that she plans to retire."

The Denver regional office oversees Yellowstone, Grand Teton and dozens of other national parks in eight states.

The Jackson Hole News and Guide broke the story Wednesday about Masica's retirement, prompted by a rejected reassignment to the Park Service's Midwestern regional office in Omaha, Neb.

Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk is also in the same camp. Wenk will retire in September after a distinguished 43-year career, rather than accept a transfer to Washington, D.C.

Former National Park Service director Jon Jarvis has been critical of how the Interior Department has handled the Park Service’s executive shake-up.

“There’s no sort of logical good for the Park Service or the government here,” Jarvis told the News&Guide this week. “Moving them out of their current jobs really doesn’t make any management sense. I think it’s just a power play on the part of the [Interior] department to say that they’re in charge.”

Richardson has been superintendent of Lake Mead National Recreation Area since 2015, and she’ll step away after 28 years of federal government employment. Her retirement date has not been determined, Vanover said.