Tell Me Why

  I need to share a bit of my rage with all of you. Many of you have met our Superintendent, Bob Chandler. A great guy, huh? He has shown a level of intelligence, leadership and a straight-shooting, no-nonsense ability to deal and grapple with difficult issues that is rare, if not unheard of in such a high-level bureaucratic position. All of us at GCRG have been delighted to have such a bright and energetic man at the helm of the park, especially with several extremely important issues coming to a head.

   Which issues? Here are three big ones for starters:

   Glen Canyon Environmental Impact Statement. This process, so many years in coming, will be setting a precedent throughout the country, forcing, for the first time ever, an agency to clean up a mess made back when there were far fewer rules. The ramifications of this process are already sending shudders throughout the West. Grand Canyon National Park needs to stand strong throughout the finalizing of this process.

   Overflights. The overflight issue is going thermonuclear right now. The industry is growing rapidly here and at parks throughout the country. The decisions made here in the next year or two will set precedents throughout the country. Again, we need a strong, well informed Superintendent at the helm.

   Grand Canyon General Management Plan. The GMP alternatives are currently under consideration and the final plan will be chosen and implemented in the next couple of years. The entire future direction of the visitor experience at the rim will be decided. Again, without a strong Superintendent, the process, and the Park, will suffer.

   And more: The Air Quality issue… the choice of a new head of Resources at the Park… all coming up soon.

   So here's the outrage: the NPS has decided to move Bob Chandler to San Francisco. Just as with Jack Davis, the previous Superintendent, Chandler is being transferred after only two years; barely time to get up enough speed to be effective. This means the Superintendent during this most critical of times will be starting from zero. At a time when continuity and clear vision are essential, the leadership will continue to yo-yo. IS THIS ANY WAY TO RUN A PARK?

   It's not a new problem- it's chronic. The NPS is set up to discourage devotion to any one place. Those who move from place to place every year or two, remaining in a perpetual state of figuring out where they are, are the ones who get raises. Those who find a position or a park that they want to devote themselves to can no longer get a raise. Their career stagnates: the Workman Syndrome.

   What's more, in choosing a replacement, the NPS is limited to the Federal hiring system, designed with good intentions to be completely impartial, but extremely limiting in terms of finding the appropriate person for the job.

  The transfer of Chandler is a decision of Roger Kennedy, the new director of the National Park Service. Chandler did not want to leave. Nor should he. The chances of us getting another Superintendent of his caliber are slim. The time it will take his replacement to get up to speed is time we can ill- afford to lose.

   The Superintendency of Grand Canyon should not be treated in such a cavalier fashion. The system needs to reward good work and devotion to a place. The decision to move Bob Chandler at this time, as well as the system that lead to it, should be rethought. Now. And if, indeed, a new Superintendent is to be chosen, great effort must be taken to find someone of very high caliber who can and will do the job and be allowed to stay there. Immediately.

   I am livid. You should be too. Grand Canyon deserves more respect.

   Roger Kennedy, Director, National Park Service
   Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of the Interior Washington, DC

Brad Dimock

   …but thanks anyhow

   Be that as it may, that Bob Chandler is leaving, we would like to applaud the job he did in such a short time, the many positive changes in attitudes and stances taken at South Rim, the openness and even-handedness of his tenure. We envy the Presidio, where he is headed, and hope someday to feel Bob's impact throughout the park system from the high level to which he will undoubtedly rise.

   A sincere and hearty thanks from all of us.