The superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Woody Smeck, is returning to Ash Mountain headquarters next week to play catch up and hear plans for the rapidly approaching visitor season. Then it’s back to Yosemite National Park for a few more weeks where Smeck has been serving as that park’s temporary superintendent for the past four months.
Christy Brigham, who has been Sequoia-Kings Canyon’s acting superintendent in Smeck’s absence, will return to her post as chief of resources. While Smeck returns to Yosemite for the final month of his assignment, Dan Blackwell, chief of facilities management, will step in as Sequoia-Kings Canyon’s acting superintendent. Smeck, who has been the Sequoia-Kings superintendent since April 2013, will return to his Ash Mountain office on March 18.
Federal hiring freeze— Christy Brigham said earlier this week there are concerns that the federal hiring freeze ordered by President Donald Trump on January 23 might impact Sequoia-Kings Canyon’s ability to gear up for the approaching summer. Brigham said she has been assured that Trump’s pick for Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, 55, knows it would be difficult to operate and protect the national parks without the more than 8,000 seasonal employees that are hired annually.
Congressman Zinke (R-Mont.) might be confirmed as early as next week. He is the first and only Navy SEAL to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.
“The Department is well aware of the maintenance and construction backlog at the parks too,” Bringham said.
At Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, there are plans to hire more than 300 seasonal employees. Brigham said she is confident that the seasonal positions will be filled.
She also pointed out that some key permanent positions, such as wilderness coordinator, are currently vacant at the local parks. There is, however, uncertainty if and when those jobs will be filled due to the hiring freeze.