Trump nominates new NPS superintendent

Raymond David Vela is a 28-year career veteran of the National Parks Service, and he has worked to make the parks more diverse and inclusive.
Publish date:
Trump's nomination for NPS superintendent; david vela

Raymond David Vela is the current chief of Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway. He has worked to make the parks accessible to diverse populations.

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. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway. He would fill the agency's top position, vacant since Jonathan Jarvis left the post in January 2017 after serving as director during the Obama administration.

“David Vela has demonstrated all of the ideals that the National Park Service stands for, and his long track record of leadership on behalf of the people and places of the National Park Service distinguish him as the right man for the job,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement. “Our extraordinary national parks will be in the best of hands with David at the helm.”

Vela began his NPS career in 1981 at San Antonio Missions National Historical Park in Texas. He went on to become a full-time ranger, served as director of the NPS’ Southeast Region, and held park superintendent posts at Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site, Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, and the George Washington Memorial Parkway.

Just prior to Grand Teton, Vela was associate director for Workforce, Relevancy, and Inclusion in the NPS headquarters in Washington, D.C. 

“I am deeply humbled by the President's nomination to serve as the 19th Director of the National Park Service, and if confirmed, I look forward to working with Secretary Zinke to address the NPS maintenance backlog, protect our national treasures, and serve all who come to enjoy the parks,” Vela said in the statement. “Having worn the uniform of the National Park Service for more than 28 years, I greatly value all that it represents and the importance of ensuring that we build a next generation workforce that is ready to take on the challenges and opportunities facing our agency.”

If Congress signs off, Vela would assume a number of challenges, including sexual harassment allegations, the oil and gas industry encroaching on public lands, removal of advisors, and an $11.6 million park maintenance backlog, just to name a few.


Rafting on the Rogue Wild and Scenic River in Oregon

Most guides not directly affected by minimum wage exemption

If Fitpacking Owner Steve Silberberg paid his guides a set rate for every hour they spent in the backcountry while leading multi-day trips through national parks and forests, he wouldn't have enough money leftover to pay for anything else. President Donald Trump on May 25 more

David_Bernhardt_official_photo crop

Some outdoor organizations reject Trump's Interior Secretary nomination

President Donald Trump has nominated a former oil and gas lobbyist as Secretary of the Interior, which, according to several outdoor advocacy organizations, doesn't bode well for public lands. Trump appointed David Bernhardt as deputy secretary to Ryan Zinke, and has been more

National Park Service ranger badge

Trump ends government shutdown...for now

It's not over. Even though President Donald Trump has reached a deal to open the federal government after a historic 35-day stalemate, it's only temporary. News reports indicate that lawmakers get three weeks to reach a decision on Trump's demands for funding a border wall more

Dinosaur National Monument

Retired park rangers ask Zinke to stop oil & gas leases near parks

In an open letter released on Tuesday, more than 350 veteran National Park Service employees pleaded with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to deny proposed oil and gas leases adjacent to park borders. "National parks represent the best of America," the letter says, adding that they more

Entrance station at Lassen Volcanic National Park

NPS dips into visitor fees during government shutdown

Slogging into the third week of the government shutdown, the National Park Service (NPS) has decided to use funds from entrance, camping, and parking fees to keep mayhem at bay inside the parks. In a statement issued Sunday, NPS Deputy Director P. Daniel Smith announced that the more

Outdoor Industry

Why the OIA just sent a letter to Trump

It’s no secret that some of the proposed changes by the Trump administration are leaving the outdoor industry infuriated. On October 19, the Outdoor Industry Association wrote a letter to the commander in chief calling upon him to protect our nation’s lands. More than 350 more

Ryan Zinke

In effort to hike national park fees, Zinke blames free visits

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke earlier this week claimed that too many Americans access national parks free of charge, which isn't helping in the effort to shrink a $11.7 billion maintenance backlog. On Tuesday, Zinke in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee more

Horseshoe Bend

32 days left to save the Land and Water Conservation Fund

A half-century-old preservation program that has funded city parks and playgrounds, mountain bike and hiking trails, rock climbing areas, and other public land projects is set to expire at the end of September. That is, unless Congress reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation more

A pop-top camper van nestled by rocks in Joshua Tree National Park

Food trucks and WiFi in National Park campgrounds?

When Starbucks moved to Yosemite National Park, more than 25,000 people signed a petition against the coffee giant setting up camp and 80 percent of SNEWS readers opposed it. Petitioners said multinational corporations and amenities would rob the natural place of its essence. But more