Interview with Director James M. Ridenour
Jim, when and how were you notified that you'd
been selected as Director of the National Park Service?
Interesting story, I had...I'd gone to Washington and met with the
White House Personnel, and we had a good discussion, but I hadn't really
heard from them for a long time.
And my wife and I and our kids took a vacation to Florida, and we're
down visiting my mother, and we'd been talking about this, you know,
and...how much disruption to the family, all those kinds of
My wife had pretty well convinced me that I ought to pull my name out of
the hat if it was in the hat.
So I called White House Personnel from Florida and I said, "Gee, I'm
thinking that maybe you should just take my name out of the
And the guy said, "We can't do that.
We're going to announce you in two weeks."
So, I mean, it was...it was kind of a mixed surprise.
So there had been some discussion of it before that with people in
the White House or around the White House?
Right, White House Personnel.
I think it was even after that that I made another trip to Washington
and they sent me over to meet with Secretary of Interior just
basically saying, you know, "This is the guy we've selected.
Do you approve?"
Actually, the selection process at that time was his decision.
If I remember going over, he had my resume, being a DNR, a Director from
a state and running state parks and all these kinds of things, and he
looked at that and said, "Gee, you're more qualified for my job than I
am," but as you recall that beautiful office up there, he said, "But I'm
not about to give up this office."
The next question is, what was your first reaction on hearing the
Well, I guess I was shocked.
I really didn't know who was in the pool of being considered.
I had kind of a unique combination of the right kind of degrees, the
right kind of experience, and enough of, but not a lot of, but I think a
lot of people thought I had a lot of political experience, but I really
I had...at the county level, you know, I'd been like a county
But, I mean, I could...the political credentials at least were right as
far as the White House went.
You indicated to some extent you had some concerns about accepting
the position and overcame them before doing so.
But did you have concerns still coming into it?
Not really once we had made the decision.
I had just gone on the faculty at Purdue, which was essentially across
the street from where we lived.
It was kind of a walk-to-work kind of an ideal situation, and the kid
were in school and things of that nature.
And kind of getting past that hurdle, the personal hurdles, were much
difficult...much more difficult than getting by the idea that the
professional hurdle of the Park Service.
I mean the job from the word go was...I couldn't have asked for
There's nothing that I would have done...in fact, I probably would not
have taken a Federal appointment except that it turned out to be that
Have you seen changes in the way that Americans value National Parks
and the National Park Service in recent times?
Do you think they feel differently about parks?
I don't think there's a great deal of difference.
There's always been a lot of support.
I think there still is a lot of support.
If anything, it's grown.
The only thing I'm concerned about with is that there's so many people
that are...that don't...aren't in a position to take advantage of the
parks, and you wonder if they'll build into their thinking a
constituency type thought for Park Service if they've never been to a
You see kids in New York City and Brooklyn whose whole idea of a park is
a vacant lot with a couple of broken basketball rims, and they've
never...maybe never put a foot on a blade of grass.
And you think, gee, what are all those people going to think about
National Parks 20 years from now when they're talking to their
So I think that's a concern.
And I think education as an outreach tool for the Park Service may help
that to some extent.
Other Federal land management agencies, certainly Forest Service,
BLM, even Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation, have kind of moved
from resource extraction and manipulation toward things more like what
we've traditionally done.
How do you think that will affect the Park Service in the next quarter
century or so?
I think it will have a major impact.
You've probably read the book that I wrote shortly after leaving the
Directorship, and one of the things that I talked about in the book, and
I talk about always in my classrooms, is this kind of a fudging or a
blurring of the lines between the agencies, and I think that's a natural
The Forest Service, let's face it, is an agency looking for a
I mean, they don't have the mission that they traditionally had.
And as the older Forest Service employees are retiring, new attitudes
are coming in...I mean, where's the logical place for them to
It's to go toward recreation.
To some extent the same with BLM.
And so I see them moving into more active kind of recreational kinds of
activities, and I think what it can do for the Park Service, and least
some parks, maybe not all, but I think it can allow the Park Service
maybe to push some of the strain of development, like development of
parking lots, development of additional campsites, whatever it might be,
push those out onto BLM or on the Forest Service properties and then
through mass transit type arrangements bring people into the
May give the parks a little bit of a chance to be slightly more on the
preservation side than they've been able to be.
Folks in the Park Service have seen such values as species and
ecosystem protection, heritage preservation, the opportunity to find
personal renewal and protected areas as National Park values.
What do you see as the proper role of the Park Service in helping other
entities to promote these values closer to where Americans live and
I think the partnerships not only with other public agencies but a
prime example would be partnerships with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service,
and I can relate that back to the wolf reintroduction in
I mean, Yellowstone became the grounds for the experiment, but the
responsibility actually was in U.S. Fish & Wildlife, and so you tie
those kinds of things together, then you tie kind of constituency groups
together, and then you better do a heck of a good job in educational
Because you can no longer spring these things kind of on the public at
the last second like the Director announces, you know.
You better have a bunch of people out there who are ready to hear that
announcement, and when they get the call from the press are ready to
say, "Yeah, I think that's a good idea."
And you have to lay a lot of groundwork.
So that means that you really have to know who those people are out
there that are either going to be very, very actively against or very,
very actively for these kinds of things.
Kind of an aside, do you think that there's an important role for the
Park Service in helping the people of these other agencies understand
those values that we cherish better than perhaps many of them
I think a number of them understand it very well.
Yeah, I think so, and I think that that's kind of a follow-on to the
question we just talked about.
Because I think that, you know, the Forest Service especially, but the
BLM, maybe to a larger extent than people realize, they've seen the
success that the Park Service has had, and they kind of...they can
sense that the mission for the Park Service is, if anything, increasing,
and so, hey, we better try to understand what those people have been
doing all these years and figure out if we can be more like
And so it's to their advantage and to the...to the country's advantage
that the Park Service work very closely with the...BLM and the Forest
Sometimes we didn't work very closely at all.
But while I was Director we formed a group called the Big Four, which
was the Bureau of Land Management, Park Service, Forest Service and
Fish & Wildlife, and we met fairly regularly.
We didn't always get all the people down into the troops, our agencies,
to agree with each other, or even meet with each other, but it's a
natural progression, and, you know, one day there may be a Department of
Resources and Interior and Agriculture might be totally out of
There's a pretty logical fit with those people who are managing Federal
If you were appointed Director of the Park Service today, what would
your action agenda look like?
Well, we've had so much talk about the backlog, and it's almost
getting old for people to hear it, but the truth of the matter is I
found, and I think it's still true to some extent, I found instances
while I was Director where we were in violation of state and Federal
laws on pollution, and in my mind, if the National Park Service can't be
the shining example of what you should be doing with waste treatment,
with landfills or whatever, if we're not the shining example in this
country, who is?
Certainly not the military.
But, to me, even though it sounds like kind of an easy out on the
question, I think those things have to be attacked, and the priorities
have got to be health and safety.
I mean, we just can't be putting raw sewage into the river at
Yellowstone, for example.
So I think that has to be a major emphasis.
I think another major emphasis has to be maybe regearing up in terms of
I know that the number of rangers in a number of these parks is far
below what it was 10, 15 years ago.
So I think we've gotten stretched very thin in terms of people.
Now, I've coined that term, which I'm pleased to see Congress using from
time to time, which is "thinning of the blood."
By that I mean thinning of the blood by stretching the Park Service
people so far across so many properties, many of which do not deserve to
be National Park Service properties ant shouldn't be in the system,
those people are stretched thin, and then I think you stretch the
quality of the system, too.
If I'm a visitor from Europe and I'm going to go to all the National
Parks and I stop at some of the places that have got that arrowhead and
I think, "Wow, what's so great about this?"
It's kind of like...I hate to use examples, but the beaches of
New York City, why did the National Park Service ever get into running
beaches in New York City?
Well, you go back and look at the history, it's because New York City
ran out of money.
But, you know, what world traveler is planning his vacations to the
National Park beaches of New York City?
I mean, those are truly local and regional parks.
Very badly needed, very important parks, but I sometimes would rather
see the Park Service or the Congress send money to the local government
to run what they should be running and put the Park Service in the
business of running the truly National Parks.
I remember I think our first meeting with you when you became
Director at a Regional Directors Meeting, now called National Leadership
I think the first one was on the peninsula somewhere near Palo Alto, or
And I remember you gave a lot of emphasis to the importance of science
to the National Park Service.
I remember some other things that were going on in the group at the
time, too, but I won't go into that.
Do you think the Park Service is working today effectively with the
I think it's been a mistake to break the scientific people out of the
Park Service and into a central agency as interior has done.
I would strongly recommend that that be reversed and that the scientists
who are assigned in the agencies have got their feet on the ground in
parks and that they become not only scientists but facilitators of
science reaching out to universities and things of that nature.
We don't have enough scientists to all become highly
We need some high theoretical people, but we also need some people who
know how to manage science.
So I think moving the people back into the parks and having them broker
themselves into much larger capability through partnerships with
universities and other scientific organizations, that's the way we need
To answer your question specifically, no, I don't think we're highly
effective in the science area, at least the way we're structured
The question of wilderness remains a hot button issue to a lot of
people, and especially so in the West.
We've seen a lot about it in the papers and heard a lot about
And some people blame us in part because of what they say has been
inconsistency in our ways of dealing with wilderness.
What do you think of that?
Well, interestingly enough, one of the courses I teach at Indiana
University is called "Wilderness and the American Mind."
And so I've learned a lot more about wilderness than I really knew when
I was in the job at the National Park Service.
I know going back to some of the park Directors, National Parks
Directors, I think probably Connie Wirth, for example, was pretty
suspicious of the wilderness movement and what it might mean to the Park
Service, and he was thinking it was a way for the Forest Service to
maybe establish themselves equally in terms of recreational experiences,
things of that nature.
Wilderness is a very, very, very political term and battle.
I've been through them personally in Indiana.
You know, we created wilderness while I was the DNR Director.
You can spend a lot of political capital for very little gain in some of
these wilderness battles.
To me, the National Park Service can, under its own mandate, pretty well
run an area like a wilderness if that's what they want to do.
The question of whether it's a small W wilderness, which essentially is
wilderness but not named by Congress, or the large W, that's the major
And I think that...you know...wildernesses are different in different
In our own state, if I had to go by a strict definition of a wilderness,
I don't think our approximately 32,000 acres would really fit.
You go back to guys like Leopold who thought that a wilderness ought to
be large enough to sustain a two-week mule pack trip.
Well, you can probably get across ours in Indiana in a matter of a few
So that's why it's so political.
And I don't get too upset.
We need to manage for wilderness qualities, and if that's what we should
do with a piece of property, we ought to do it.
And whether it gets the big W through Congress, I'm not too
You don't think that additional assurance that if somebody came along
with a little different attitude toward it is that important?
Well, I think it is important, but I don't know whether it's worth
burning a whole bunch of your other bridges to get to that
Some characterize cultural resources as an elitist concern, say that
it's outsides the concern of the average American.
How do you see that?
Well, again, I think it would depend on how you define cultural
resources, but certainly if you define cultural resources to include
things like the Liberty Bell, like the Statue of Liberty, like Ellis
Island, all of those kinds of things, if that in fact is a major part of
what cultural resources are, then I think the Park Service...it needs
to be in up to its knees and probably even further.
And as a matter of fact, I've written and I've e-mailed and been
involved with some of the campaigns, and one of the things that I've
said is, "We don't need to be out there buying a lot of new private land
for National Park sites."
I mean, there isn't another Yellowstone hiding somewhere that I'm aware
We pretty well know those things.
I said, "But that shouldn't foreclose the attitude that we're not going
to buy some and maybe work a lot on our borders and inholdings, and in
addition, be ready to take advantage of those situations where cultural
can become an issue like overnight."
A good example is the Oklahoma City Memorial.
I mean, who knew that we would need to, unfortunately need to, have that
as a park site or memorial site until the thing happened?
Same with the space program.
We really didn't need a space park until we got into the space
So there's always going to be a need to create new additional
And probably the bulk of those will be more cultural than what we've
seen in the past.
The ownership of cultural resources has increasingly divided Native
people from scientists.
Was that a real concern during your tenure?
It was becoming a concern.
Jerry Rogers was working in that area a lot, and the National Park
Service had and still has a lot of artifacts which could be questioned
as whether those should be in archives or whether they should be
returned in some way.
I have a very difficult time figuring out what the right position should
be in that area.
I do know that you can't say that the Native American community speaks
with one voice, because I've talked with Indian leaders who want the
artifacts back and are going to rebury them and so on and they are
adamant about it, and I've talked to others who say they don't really
have an opinion.
So it's hard, I think, to say, "This is the right solution and it's a
It's probably one that's going to come down to some national guidance
with a lot of authority in a Regional Director's hands to work
individually with tribes based on their particular perceptions of what's
sacred to them.
How do you think the National Park Service can help an increasingly
diverse American public feel that they have a stake in the National Park
System and the Service's programs.
Certainly something the National Park Service needs to do.
We probably haven't done it as well as we could have in the
It's becoming more important now as our so-called minority populations
have grown significantly, especially when you think about South Florida,
Texas, I mean, huge growth in the Hispanic populations, and we need to
kind of aculture ourselves to the traditions and the types of
backgrounds that these people have come from.
They may have...they have totally different ideas about what you might
do in a picnic area, for example, as we learned one time when someone
let a goat in on a string in one of the parks and everyone assumed that
that was the pet, but then they put the goat up on the table and slashed
its throat and cooked it, much to the amazement of everyone around
But that was their culture, you know.
So we need to know that before we can deal with it, number one.
Number two, certainly it's got to be through the educational
I mean, we've got to be out there with the 3rd, and 4th and 5th
graders...it may be almost too late for the 16 and 17-year-olds, but we
got to be out there with the 3rd and the 4th and the 5th graders so they
kind of grow into our system and we grow into theirs as well.
And so I think that's probably the major things that's going to have to
And without it being dependent our having something we call a
National Park System unit in their midst but reaching them in other
I think so.
I am probably very encouraged...encouraging in this concept of parks
closer to the people, but I'm not necessarily encouraging that those be
Maybe the pass-through monies from the Land and Water Conservation Fund
can be targeted.
I mean, you need these relief valves for these tremendous cities like
Los Angeles and New York and Chicago.
You've got to have relief valve green space, park space, so forth and so
And I think the Federal government can play a major role with offshore
oil drilling revenues to create those areas, but I think they probably
should be managed at the state and local level.
We've been talking about this pretty much as a continuing thread
through everything we've discussed so far, but the Service has been said
to be tiptoeing into outreach education, reach young non-visitors,
people that may never visit parks, people before they come, people after
What's your view of this effort?
Well, I am...I'm a major supporter of this concept.
Like you say, so many people will never see a park, but if they've
gotten exposure, if they have had in their educational experience an
understanding of a Yellowstone or a Yosemite, or even the historical
battlefields, for example, then I think in their hearts they may say,
"Well, I may never get to see it, but from my standpoint,
Mr. Congressman who is elected from my district, we think these are
wonderful things and you need to really pay some attention to
So, you know, it's a matter of survival in many cases, because the
percentage of people who will have never been in a National Park, in my
opinion, is probably increasing rather than decreasing, and...so that
leaves you with essentially, on a percentage basis, a decreased number
of people who have experienced firsthand a National Park and can pass
that on in their family and an into their political lives.
So, yeah, you've got to be in it.
The question is how to pay for it, as always, and in many cases...we've
talked about this in the last day or so, there may be opportunities for
the Park Service to get into production some kinds of things that can
actually be sold, create a revenue stream.
Maybe it won't cover the whole program, but if you do just a heck of a
good CD-ROM on Yellowstone, it might be that you can put that thing in
the gift shop and get a little income.
What do you feel are the necessary attributes for a successful
Director of the National Park Service in today's political and social
Well, I think they're not a lot different than they've been over the
years except that I think a Director has to...has to be able to walk in
among the political leaders of the country comfortably.
They can't be...in other words, they have to know enough about that
side of the world they're not seen as someone with a green uniform over
in Interior who doesn't know what the halls of Congress or the White
House...doesn't mix with that crowd, so to speak.
You have to mix with that crowd, because that's where the decisions are
Whether we like it or not, in this country, our system is that elected
leaders make decisions.
And, you know, a Park Director can influence, can push, can bully, can
do a lot of things, but when it comes right down to voting, doesn't have
So they need to know how to do that.
They need to be...I don't think you necessarily need to be a resource
expert, but it sure would help if they've had some historical background
that relates to the Park Service and whether it's wilderness or the
cultural side or whatever.
I think that's very important.
And then, most of all, you know...maybe not most of all, but certainly
as important is a level of managerial skills.
I mean, that job is a huge management job.
You talk about 18,000 employees.
You talk about 379 units.
80 million acres plus.
One lady asked me one time what I did as National Park Service Director,
and she kind of thought maybe I went around and picked up trash.
"Don't you just travel all the time?"
I said, "Well, what does your husband do?"
And she said, "Well, he's Vice-President of General Motors."
I said, "Well, yeah, I do about the same thing."
You know, "I argue and fight over personnel decisions.
I work on budgets, so forth and so on."
So you've got to have some management capability in there, too, as well.
...different viewpoints on how important it is, whether someone comes
from inside the Service or outside.
And thinking about it, I think you were the person who came from outside
who seemed the most comfortable with the move and that Park Service felt
most comfortable in.
I think...you know, I mean, we were kindred spirits marching in the
I was just doing it at the state level compared to the Federal
And it's all part of the big same mosaic.
You spoke of the importance of a Director feeling comfortable in the
halls of Congress and among the people of the White House.
What do you think the Service could do today to improve its relationship
I think that...I think that the Director, of course, has to have a
presence on the Hill, and I'm not so sure I did that as well as I
probably should have when I was Director, but I think a good example of
a person that did very well in that area is George Hartzog.
I mean, he was famous in terms of his walking the halls of Congress and
getting things accomplished.
I guess when I came in, my opinion was that let's forge ahead and do
everything we can from an administrative side, because once it gets up
to Congress it seems to all fall apart.
So I probably wasn't as attentive as I should be, but I do think you
have to be, and I think you have to be at least on a first-name basis
with the major people up there, whether they're senators or
They need to be...feel that they can call you and you need to feel that
your call will be answered when you make that call.
You've got...this is a hard one, but it's kind of like the old
principle that you can argue within the family, but when you make a
decision, it needs to be consistently supported.
So a congressman talks to you, the Director in Washington, and then goes
out and gets a totally different picture from a Superintendent out in
the field, to the extent you can, you don't want to totally control
that, but you hope that you're all pretty well marching on the same page
so the congressman is not coming back and saying, "Well, wow the
Director is off in left field," or else "The Superintendent's off in
So, a little more consistency throughout the organization.
I'm not testy...I don't necessarily know how to make that happen, but
that would help a great deal, especially with the congressional
Oh, and one other thing, Boyd, I think that the...I think this is
unfortunate, but I think the people that often have the real power
strings up on the Hill are not necessarily elected officials.
It's staff that has been there for a long period of time.
They got their own agenda.
You may even leave a note for their congressman and they may throw it
I've often said it would do no good to have limited terms for Congress
members unless you had limited terms for staff members because they
they stay on, and some of these people are very, very powerful.
They can add and take things out of the budget that no one even knows
until we pore over it four months later.
So a relationship with those people as well, as best you can, is
probably a real good idea.
That's something not very widely understood in America, is
What was your most satisfying moment as Director of the Park
I can remember some thrilling moments.
I'll tell you about one that really thrilled me as I just became the
I rented an apartment in a nearby high-rise, in fact, it was over near
where Bill Mott had rented an apartment, and I remember coming out on
the balcony and looking at a beautiful full moon and the Washington
Monument and thinking...it was an overwhelming feeling that, gee, I'm
responsible for this.
You know, it's just like changing a whole mind set.
Whatever...I think people that go from state and local governments to
Washington, it's kind of like you step up to a challenge that is beyond
what you had and a feeling of great responsibility.
People turn many times in their attitudes about a lot of things when
they step up to those big jobs.
One of the things that I felt was very important and was very satisfying
to me was to win, in my opinion, the battle with the concessioners,
particularly the Yosemite situation, which I really felt the government
and the people of this country were getting ripped off.
And that was an intense fight, and there were very high-stakes players
in that fight.
Secretary of Interior backed me all the way, and we were able to begin
to change the attitude, which is still going on, of how the Park Service
deals with concessions people and what happens to the revenue
So that was very gratifying to me to say I'm going to turn this around,
we're going to put more of that money back on the park itself, and we're
going to get more of that money and then put it back in the park
So that was very satisfying.
Of course, all of the things that you do as Park Service Director, you
know, when you get out in the field were great thrills.
I mean, I had not seen a lot of the great National Parks.
Took a five-day trip down the river at the Grand Canyon.
I mean, you just kind of feel sorry for everyone who can't do
So those kinds of things.
And I think beginning the fight...I think I began the fight to really
become more discriminating in what we put into the system and thinning
the blood, and that was very gratifying.
Because I felt so bad that some of our parks that were our real icons
were in real trouble, and here we were throwing millions of dollars into
things that might have been more aptly regional shopping centers or
economic development projects.
Is there anything you did during your tenure that you would do
I probably would...I probably would strengthen my capability in
dealing with Congress.
I kind of started off on the wrong foot in that I got a fellow to be the
head of legislative affairs who turned out...I knew him, but I didn't
know him well, and he turned out to be far more partisan in terms of
politics than he ever should have been, and I didn't really know that
until it began to filter back to me.
Because if you're going to be successful as a Parks Director, you can't
be very partisan in the political world.
I mean, you're obviously going to pay attention to the President of the
party and...that's in power, things of that nature, but this fellow was
kind of almost vindictive in terms of partisanship, and I got rid of him
before very long, but he'd already done some damage on the Hill.
So I probably would be very, very careful about building that
relationship on the Hill and trying to keep it pretty
Were you Director through a transition?
Was there...were there transitions in the Assistant Secretary
there were several people in the Assistant Secretary slot during your
How did you deal with those?
That was interesting because, you know, in some ways the trenches
a transition is almost more difficult to go through when you're going
from the same party to the same party, because a lot of people that were
there in the old administration made assumptions that they'd be there in
the new administration, and some of the people that we dealt with early
who went up our Assistant Secretary annual chain were just, in my
opinion, far too conservative in their political thinking for me, and it
was like those people are going to be there.
They were holdovers from the Reagan administration.
And I really don't think we got our feet churning as well as we could
until basically those people had left government, and it took a
I mean, I can remember one of the Assistant Secretaries, I walked up
there, and behind her desk she had, you know, stacks of condemnation
documents that had never been processed.
She'd never processed a one.
And she said, "Well, we don't believe in condemnation.
It's got to be willing sellers."
And I tried to point out to her that probably half of those stacks were
actually people who were willing sellers and we were going to
condemnation just to get a price set from a judge, and they were out
there waiting to be condemned.
I agree with the concept that whenever possible you should work with
willing sellers, but there's always that one situation where there's one
person who won't cooperate and for the lack of being able to cooperate
you couldn't build the interstate system or whatever it is.
You've got to hold that in reserve.
You can't say I'll never do that.
So those were difficulties in the transition.
And I think the Park Service...by a lot of people, kind of think of the
Park Service, talking about people in other agencies, as like the
fair-haired, you know, godson somehow of the system.
So a lot of jealousy between agencies.
You get into a staff meeting, and the BLM Director jealously guards
everything that he thinks might happen that's good to the Park
So there were a lot of those kinds of things.
And they took a few years to wash out of the system.
One of the reasons we're having these interviews is to have a record
that the next Director, when and whoever that may be, will be able to
view, knowing that there's a new administration, whether a different
party or not, will be coming in in 2001.
What do you...what advice would you give whoever will be Director in
that new administration?
I would say...I would say that whoever is Director needs to be
comfortable with the philosophy of whoever the President is and
basically the people around the President.
If you're directly adamantly opposed to whatever their philosophy is,
you probably really shouldn't take the job.
And I use this example as I teach in classrooms, and my kids, as you can
imagine, and the kind of classes I teach are largely pretty liberal
environmentalists, and they...they'll picket and they'll strike and
they'll do all kinds of things.
I tell them, I say, "Look, if you do not have the personality to be able
to accept defeat sometimes on a position that you want to push or you
lose the argument and you can't take that and so you end up trying to
sabotage the agency, don't go into the Park Service.
Don't go into the Forest Service.
Get together with one of the public interest groups who supports 9 times
out of 10 your position.
Work somewhere like that.
But if you're so stuck that you can't be a team player, you know, you
better not be the Director of the Park Service or in any major
So I think team play, at least being on the team...in other words, if
the President's got a team, you need to be on the team.
You shouldn't be the sore thumb of the team.
So that kind of philosophy kind of falls to how you feel about the
candidates, for example.
I think you could be a professional Park Service Director without being
a partisan politician.
I think good common sense will serve a Director very well.
I mean, he can be...disagree with people and not be disagreeable, so to
So I think that's important.
He needs...the people of the Park Service need to feel that their
Director can, if need be, communicate directly with the President of the
If they think the guy is stuck way back here in the catacombs of the
Park Service and he doesn't have any contacts, you know, that's not
So I think they need to, you know...the characteristics need to be good
common sense people, have a good feel for the resource, have a love for
People now talk to me about, "Well, what are you?
Are you a conservationist?
Are you a preservationist?"
And I finally worked it out in my head.
I mean, it's taken a long time.
Because the terms are used, as you know, interchangeably a other La of
And what I say is I am always, always a conservationist, always.
But there are times when other tools need to be used, and those are in
my conservation tool bag.
One of them is preservation.
I may become a very strict preservationist, depending on the issue, or I
may be a very wise use conservationist based on, again, the
When they wanted to drill for geothermal resources outside of
Yellowstone, the Geological Survey gave me 98% assurity that it would
have no impact on the Yellowstone features.
I said, "That ain't good enough.
I'm not going to be the Director that makes Old Faithful
So, I became a very strict preservationist in the sense at that
But I think that the Director has to have a broader conservation ethic
type thing that you can trace back to Roosevelt and to Gifford Pinchot
and to John Muir, although Muir as he got older kind of went a little
further in a different direction.
But much of Muir's writings were very much conservation
So I think that broad-based approach, especially since we're so much now
into the cultural parks, the historical parks, not just the Western
You need to have a pretty broad-gauged person.
That's the attitude they need to bring to the job is, you know, they
can't just fix Yellowstone.
I got to worry about Ellis Island and things of that nature.
Well, thank you, Jim.
Thank you very much.