Department of the Interior

Office of the Secretary
For Immediate Release:
July 26, 2006
Contact: Shane Wolfe (DOI)
David Barna (NPS)


Note to media: Director Mainella will host a conference call with credentialed reporters TODAY at 3:00pm EDT. Call-in number is (888)296-1938. Participant code is 209752.

National Park Service Director Fran Mainella Announces Resignation

Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and National Park Service Director Fran Mainella on Godspeed Sail at the Jamestown's 400th Commemoration Commission this past June.
Click on the image above for High Resolution
Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and National Park Service Director Fran Mainella on Godspeed Sail at the Jamestown's 400th Commemoration Commission this past June.

WASHINGTON – National Park Service Director Fran Mainella, the 16th NPS director, announced that, after nearly six years of service, she will leave her position to devote more time to her family.
In her resignation letter, Mainella wrote, “Thank you, Mr. President for allowing me to serve you and the American people as the Director of the National Park Service. Thank you for your support and confidence in my ability as the first woman to serve as Director.”

“Now, in my sixth year as Director, it is time for me to pursue opportunities that will allow me more time to spend with my family, including my parents and in-laws who have been having health issues. Thus, with mixed emotions, I request that my resignation be effective on a mutually agreeable date that is beneficial to the National Park Service and the Department of the Interior.”

Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne applauded her strong leadership of the National Park Service.

In a letter, Kempthorne wrote to her, "You wrote history in helping to create the Great Sand Dunes and Lewis and Clark National Parks. You led the effort to get 6,000 park improvement projects started or completed. You helped create the Natural Resource Challenge that has invested more than $450 million to protect national parks. You tripled cyclic park maintenance funding.”

“Perhaps your most important contribution, one that will endure long past your tenure as Director, is your effort to foster a culture of partnership within the National Park Service. Thanks to your leadership, today virtually every national park works in partnership with state and local officials, local residents and friends groups.”

“Prior to your leaving, I look forward to working with you in planning and celebrating the 90th anniversary of the National Park Service. You have said that our ‘National Parks are the soul of America and a gift to the world.’ I agree. The 90th anniversary should launch a campaign for the National Parks to remain as havens of enjoyment, learning, recreation, and personal renewal for the next 100 years.”

“You can take deep satisfaction that 96% of visitors enjoy their time in national parks. On behalf of a grateful nation, the President and me, please accept our heartfelt thanks for the energy and enthusiasm you invested in your service as Director of the National Park Service. Congratulations on a job well done. From our discussions, this is a time when your family must take priority over the demands of public service. I honor your decision.”

In her letter to the President, Mainella also thanked Mrs. Bush, who serves as honorary chair of the National Park Foundation and has “demonstrated her commitment to both national parks and to children. She is helping young people discover their national parks and teaching them how to protect and enjoy them.”

Mainella garnered accolades for her leadership from NPS career employees as well as conservation leaders.

“Career National Park Service employees admire Fran’s love for the national parks,” said Steve Martin, NPS Deputy Director. “We respect her energy, enthusiasm and commitment to our mission. We respect the decision she has made and will miss her when she leaves.”

“It was a great pleasure working with Fran Mainella during all of her nearly six-year period of service,” said conservationist and businessman David Rockefeller. “Fran put the welcome mat out at national parks for millions of Americans. As former Citizen Chair of the National Park Foundation, I worked very closely and happily with her.”

“Fran is famous for her commitment to creating partnerships and preserving the natural and cultural resources within the national parks. She has been a terrific leader of the National Park Service, and we Americans owe Director Mainella a debt of gratitude for all she has done,” said Patrick Noonan, Chairman Emeritus of The Conservation Fund.

Mainella will continue to serve as Director through the planning and celebration of the 90th anniversary of the National Park Service and through the completion of the 2006 National Park Service Management Policies and other important projects.

Before becoming the 16th Director of the National Park Service in 2001, Mainella served 12 years as Director of Florida's Division of Recreation and Parks. During her tenure, Florida State Parks were voted the best in the nation, achieving the Gold Medal Award given jointly by the National Sporting Goods Association and the National Recreation and Park Association. Before assuming her State post, she was Executive Director of the Florida Recreation and Park Association, a statewide professional organization for those working in public and private park and recreation programs and facilities. Mainella has served terms as President of both the National Recreation and Park Association (1996-97) and the National Association of State Park Directors (1997-99).

The Connecticut native obtained her Bachelor's Degree from the University of Connecticut and her Master's from Central Connecticut State College.

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