Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk to Retire - KULR8.com | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk to Retire

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Mammoth – It’s official. Yellowstone Park Superintendent Dan Wenk will retire next year.

When Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk spoke at Cody’s Park Appreciation Day luncheon in early May, reporters asked if a recent story about his transfer to Washington D.C. was true.

He answered, “These are not uncommon discussions.  The difference is this discussion became public with an article in the Washington Post.”

When  asked if he wanted to stay in Yellowstone, he said, “I’ve made no secret that my intention was to retire as Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park.”

Now, it is official. Wenk will retire in Yellowstone, March 30, 2019.

In Mammoth Friday, he said, “I made the decision to retire last year, and the confusion that resulted from the Washington Post Article caused me to make the announcement now.”

Wenk said he still has lots of work to do.

At the top of his list?

He said, “The quarantine of bison and sending bison to Ft. Peck.

Hundreds of Park bison have been sent to slaughter, after a 2000 agreement with Montana. This is a new paradigm.

He pointed out, “We’re in negotiations and forging agreements right now with APHIS, the state of Montana, and the tribes at Fort Peck to get that done.”

When Wenk steps down, he will have been Yellowstone’s Superintendent for eight years.  When he arrived in 2011, he inherited a huge controversy: Snowmobiles in Yellowstone.  Park managers wanted fewer, and cleaner snow machines in the Park. Surrounding states wanted continued snowmobile access. 

Wenk pointed out, “Through work with communities, we brought that to a very successful conclusion.”

Wenk is also proud of an agreement with Park Concessionaire Xanterra that resulted in 200 million dollars in improvements to park structures.

But, the 2016 allegations of sexual harassment in Yellowstone still concern Wenk.

He explained, “The inspector generals’ reports showed that a lot of the allegations were either exaggerated or untrue. But it doesn’t me we didn’t have a problem that we need to address, so we are.”

Wenk manages more than 800 employees, and a $60 million dollar budget for the 2.2 million acre park.

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MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, WY — Today, Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk announced his decision to retire on March 30, 2019. At that time, Wenk will have more than 43 years of public service dedicated to the national park system.

"I've had an amazing career with the National Park Service," said Superintendent Wenk. "It is an honor and a privilege to preserve national park resources and provide incredible visitor experiences, and I'm not done yet. I'm in the midst of several important projects that I will finish before I depart to ensure the smoothest transition for Yellowstone."

Over Wenk's remaining tenure, his areas of focus will be: implementing the bison quarantine program by sending live animals to the tribes at Fort Peck; collecting data and developing community support for the long-term visitor use management planning effort; negotiating concessions contracts; managing transboundary wildlife issues; and working with park staff to improve workplace culture.

As the current Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park since 2011, Wenk manages more than 2.2 million acres, a staff of 800, and an annual budget of more than $60 million.

Wenk served as Deputy Director of Operations for the National Park Service in Washington D.C. from 2007 through 2011. He served as Acting Director of the National Park Service for nine months in 2009. In these national roles, Wenk received the Department of the Interior Secretary's Executive Leadership Award and the Presidential Rank Award.

Wenk's career with the National Park Service began in 1975 as a landscape architect. He was named Superintendent of Mount Rushmore National Memorial in 1985 where he served for 16 years. In 2001, he was appointed the Director of the Denver Service Center, which is the National Park Service's central office with responsibility for planning, design and construction.

KULR-8's Penny Preston spoke with Wenk in early may about rumor's he may be transferred. You'll find that story here.

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