Mary Bomar© National Park Service
After years of budget cuts and neglect at national parks, environmentalists are optimistic that the White House decision to replace outgoing National Park Service Director Fran Mainella with career NPS officer Mary Bomar is a step in the right direction. Bomar is credited with managing several major revitalization projects that led to surges in park attendance in previous posts.
Environmentalists have been critical of Mainella, who is stepping down due to family concerns, for encouraging too much commercial participation in park operations as a remedy for problems like crumbling facilities, neglectful land management and understaffed visitor centers.
"Its good to see a career Park Service professional nominated," says Amy McNamara of the Bozeman, Montana-based Greater Yellowstone Coalition. "She’ll have an understanding of the daily challenges park managers face."
Tom Kiernan of the National Parks Conservation Association thinks Bomar will be a "strong and effective" NPS director. "She cares deeply about the park resources and about improving the visitor experience," he says, citing her record of reaching out to partners to help protect and interpret national parks.
But Bomar’s success may depend on whether she can wrangle enough funds to make an impact on the agency"s $600 million maintenance backlog. If the Bush administration follows through on a recent pledge to make the NPS financially solvent within a decade, then Bomar might succeed at her task.
Sources: www.jhguide.com/article.php?art_id=882 and www.doi.gov/secretary/speeches/060825_speech.html