Raymond Vela is currently superintendent of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

Raymond Vela is currently superintendent of Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. National Park Service

Trump Names 28-Year Career Employee to Run Park Service

Raymond Vela earns mixed reviews from advocacy groups.

Nineteen months into his administration, President Trump on Friday nominated a 28-year career manager to be director of the National Park Service.

Raymond David Vela, currently superintendent of Grand Teton National Park and the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway in Wyoming, drew praise from one parks advocacy group but criticism from an environmental one.

According to a resume provided by the White House, Vela has Washington experience, having served as associate director for workforce, relevancy and inclusion in the NPS headquarters in the Interior Department. He is also a graduate of Interior’s Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program. 

Vela’s federal career began at San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. For four years, he was director of the NPS’ Southeast Region, before which he was park superintendent at Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site, Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park and the George Washington Memorial Parkway in the Washington area. 

Vela is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a B.S. in recreation and parks. 

On Friday he pronounced himself “deeply humbled” at the nomination. “Having worn the uniform of the National Park Service for more than 28 years,” he said in an Interior release, “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.”

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke added that “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.”

House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, called the Vela choice “a superb decision,” adding that "addressing the maintenance backlog in our parks is long overdue, and Vela’s years of service in parks around the country will bring fresh advocacy to this continued effort.”

Interior also published praise-filled statements from Gov. Matt Mead, R-Wyo., and the heads of various parks foundations.

Independently, Theresa Pierno, president and CEO for National Parks Conservation Association, said, “Vela has established a robust program to train the next generation of park leaders prioritizing inclusion and diverse partnerships. Vela is a problem solver and is poised to take on many obstacles facing our parks as director, including threats from development, air and water pollution, climate change and record visitation. One of the more difficult challenges will be addressing an already underfunded National Park Service and its nearly $12 billion in needed repairs. We look forward to the timely confirmation of David Vela.”

The executive director of the nonprofit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility was less enthusiastic. PEER is pursuing a legal case arguing that administration has illegally filled this and other Interior Department leadership positions with acting officials from outside the agency.

“As it stumbles into its second century, our National Park System faces mounting challenges which call for a real leader with vision, rather than a pliant placeholder,” said Jeff Ruch, in a statement noting that his organization is concluding a Freedom of Information Act suit against Grand Teton for withholding its cell tower plans.

PEER criticized Vela’s “penchant for secrecy, instances of gaming the system to the detriment of park resources, and an apparent allergy to long-term planning required by law. PEER’s direct experience with Mr. Vela gives us great pause about endorsing his nomination.”

The position of NPS director has been officially vacant since the departure in January 2017 of Jon Jarvis. Michael Reynolds served for a year as acting director until January 2018, when Zinke moved him to be superintendent of Yosemite National park and named Dan Smith as deputy director serving while “exercising the authority of director for the National Park Service.”

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.