National Park Service (NPS) Director Mary A. Bomar retired last week, capping a 25-year federal career that included becoming the first naturalized citizen to lead the NPS.
"It has been my privilege to lead the 20,000 men and women of the National Park Service for the past 27 months," said Bomar. "But Inauguration Day marks the end of my tenure as director. It is time for me to hang up my ranger hat, finish my Park Service career and retire with over 25 years of government service."
Bomar became the 17th director of the National Park Service on Oct. 17, 2006. She led a team of 20,000 employees and 172,000 volunteers in administering 391 national park units and related cultural and natural heritage programs.
The parks welcomed more than 275 million visitors in 2007.
In a memo to NPS employees, Bomar wrote, "If parks are America's best idea, then certainly you are the best America has to offer ... there is a new hope and confidence in the future - that we will enter our second century prepared to meet any challenge we face." She added, "Directors will come and go, but the places are timeless - and the hearts of those who care for them are bigger than the 84 million acres in the system."
Bomar and her husband will relocate to Texas, where she spent the early days of her NPS career, which began at Amistad National Recreation Area, Texas, where she became chief of administration.
During her four-year tenure at Amistad, the NPS took advantage of her management expertise, assigning her a portfolio as a management circuit rider, assisting many national park sites in the southwest.
In January 1994, Bomar accepted a management position at San Antonio Missions National Historical Park - home to the largest collection of Spanish Colonial resources in the United States - and was promoted to the position of assistant superintendent.
Before her move to Oklahoma, she completed a detail as the acting superintendent of Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.
Director Bomar served as superintendent of Independence National Historical Park in Philadelphia from 2003-2005.
There she presided over what was termed the "largest urban redevelopment project in America," a $340 million reconstruction of Independence Mall.
The project included the relocation of the Liberty Bell to its new home in the Liberty Bell Center.
Selected as regional director of the NPS Northeast Region in July 2005, Bomar led the strategic planning, management and operation for more than 100 parks and areas of national significance plus numerous technical assistance and partnership programs in the 13-state region.
Prior to her National Park Service career, Bomar worked for the United States Air Force in the Morale Welfare and Recreation Program at various bases in the United States and Europe, and as a member of the Inspector General team.
Deputy Director Dan Wenk will serve as Acting Director until a new NPS Director is nominated and confirmed.
"Dan has done a great job as Deputy Director," said Bomar, "and I know he will continue to take care of the people, programs and places in the National Park Service."