Acting National Park Service director Michael T. Reynolds has been chosen to be superintendent of Yosemite National Park, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced Wednesday.
Reynolds will take the reins of the top federal job in Yosemite in early March. His tenure will come on the heels of acting Yosemite superintendents Chip Jenkins and Linda Mazzu. Jenkins has been acting superintendent for the past year.
Mazzu took over as interim acting superintendent in September 2016 when Don Neubacher abruptly resigned from the top job in Yosemite amidst allegations that he fostered a hostile work environment and his management style may have contributed to employees’ perceptions of bias or harassment.
Kelly Martin, a female chief of fire and aviation management in Yosemite, testified before a congressional committee in September 2016 about alleged misconduct and mismanagement in the globally famous national park.
“In Yosemite National Park today, dozens of people, the majority of whom are women, are being bullied, belittled, disenfranchised and marginalized from their roles as dedicated professionals,” Martin testified a year and a half ago in the nation’s capital.
Harassment and disrespect of female employees in Yosemite National Park had become commonplace under Neubacher, members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said in September 2016.
In January a year ago, on the morning after President Donald Trump was inaugurated in the nation's capital, Reynolds was acting NPS director when Trump told Reynolds in a Saturday phone call to produce more photographs of the previous day’s crowds on the Mall, The Washington Post reported.
The president believed additional photos might prove news media were lying in reports that attendance had been no better than average. Trump was also angry about a retweet sent from the NPS Twitter account, with side-by-side photographs showing fewer people at his swearing-in than when Barack Obama was inaugurated on a freezing day in January 2009.
Reynolds has 31 years with the National Park Service and he is a third-generation NPS employee who grew up in Yosemite.
Reynolds has served as NPS deputy director for operations since 2016 and he spent most of his tenure as NPS acting director, Zinke’s staff in the nation’s capital said.
As Yosemite National Park superintendent, Reynolds will oversee one of the nation’s oldest and most iconic national parks.
“Mike did an incredible job stewarding our parks through 2017,” Zinke said. “His leadership helping me combat sexual harassment and discrimination in the service as well as his big-thinking ideas to address the maintenance backlog is very much appreciated. I have all the trust in the world that Mike will bring his years of experience in field and in management to Yosemite.”
During his time with the National Park Service, Reynolds has also worked in the nation’s capital as associate director for workforce, relevancy and inclusion, overseeing NPS training, relevancy, youth, and recruitment programs nationwide, from 2014 to 2016.
Before that, he was appointed NPS Midwest Region director in 2011. He has also worked as deputy director of the Northeast Region in Philadelphia and superintendent of Fire Island National Seashore. His prior NPS work experience includes stints as a resource manager, planner, and division chief in Yosemite.
Reynolds has a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an MBA from Regis University in Denver. Zinke’s staff in the nation’s capital say Reynolds was a senior executive Fellow at Harvard University in the spring of 2011.
“When I think about my family’s history in Yosemite, this feels like coming home -- it’s an incredible honor that I take very seriously,” Reynolds said in prepared remarks. “Times have changed since my grandparents served as 40-year concession employees in the park. However, we should still provide world-class service and experience to visitors in ways that sustain Yosemite into the next century. My focus will be on that, and on supporting our employees, repairing infrastructure and working closely with the communities and people around and associated with the park.”
Yosemite National Park receives millions of visitors each year. Summer staffing includes 1,200 NPS employees in addition to 1,700 hospitality employees who work at park lodges, restaurants and recreation attractions like Half Dome Village Ice Rink.
Zinke also named Paul Daniel Smith as National Park Service acting director, replacing Reynolds.
Contact Guy McCarthy at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 588-4585. Follow him on Twitter @GuyMcCarthy.