Acting National Park Service Director announces abrupt retirement - SNEWS

Acting National Park Service Director announces abrupt retirement

David Vela is leaving the Park Service after more than 30 years.
Author:
Publish date:
Trump's nomination for NPS superintendent; david vela

David Vela has retired from the National Park Service after more than 30 years.

On Friday, Acting National Park Service Director David Vela announced abruptly that he would depart his role as de facto head of the NPS and retire. He will be replaced by principal deputy director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Margaret Everson.

Vela was the third acting director to head the NPS under president Trump. Though he was nominated to the post in 2018, the nomination was never confirmed—an irregularity that has faced legal challenges for violating the Constitution's "advice and consent" clause. Before Vela, NPS veteran Mike Reynolds served as the agency's acting director through 2017, followed by P. Daniel Smith, who served as acting director through October 2019.

"With the support of my wife of 40 years and my family, I have decided that it is time to hang up my flat hat for the last time within the month. In the coming days, Margaret Everson will be exercising the authority of the director while I finish several projects I am working on with Shawn Benge," Vela wrote in an email today announcing his retirement.

The departure has been met with shock and has drawn some criticism from groups like Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and Coalition to Protect America's National Parks.

In a statement today, National Parks and Conservation Association president and CEO Theresa Pierno highlighted the disorder within the NPS over the last three years and called for a permanent leader to step in, confirmed by the U.S. Senate. 

“Without a permanent, emboldened director, there’s no one to speak for our parks and park staff. And it’s our parks and public lands, and all who visit them that pay the price," said Pierno. "Our national park rangers, and the American people, deserve nothing less than a fully empowered leader approved by Congress to perform his or her duties to ensure the best protection and future for our national parks.”

Related

Kristen Soderman entered this photo in the 2015 National Park Photo Contest sponsored by Tamron.

Quiz | Name that National Park

Our friends at National Park Trips Media put together this 20-question quiz with stunning photos of different locations. Maybe you've never been to any of these sites or maybe you've been to all of them.  Take 5 minutes to test yourself here. Plus, read our story about new ...read more

America's National Parks Podcast

If National Parks could talk

Elevator Pitches are written by the company and edited for space and clarity. They do not express the opinions of SNEWS or its editors. Ride the elevator with Jason Epperson, Producer/Host of America's National Parks Podcast. The America's National Parks Podcast tells the story ...read more

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Sincerely, the national parks

From outdated facilities to crumbling roads to well-traveled trails, many national parks are in need of facelifts with a total price tag of more than $11.6 billion. In order for generations to come to enjoy the parks' wonders and rejuvenating magic, that maintenance backlog must ...read more

Trump's nomination for NPS superintendent; david vela

Trump made a good choice for the NPS

Should Congress approve President Donald Trump's nomination, Raymond David Vela would be the first Latino superintendent of the National Park Service. Vela, a 28-year career veteran of the NPS, is the current chief of Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park and the John D. ...read more