Planned boss of regional National Park Service office chooses retirement instead

Lizette Richardson will retire as Superintendent of Lake Mead National Recreation Area rather than be reassigned to  the NPS Denver Regional Office. (Photo/NPS)

Lizette Richardson will retire as Superintendent of Lake Mead National Recreation Area rather than be reassigned to the NPS Denver Regional Office. (Photo/NPS)

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. (AP) — The employee tapped to take over the National Park Service’s Intermountain regional office in Denver has quit.

Superintendent of Lake Mead National Recreation Area Lizette Richardson was recently asked to lead the office, which oversees Yellowstone, Grand Teton and dozens of other national parks in eight states, the Jackson Hole News and Guide reported .

But Richardson — like the regional director she was to replace, Sue Masica — rejected a transfer ordered by Secretary Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department, and will instead end a career of working for the federal government.

“She notified her employees yesterday that she plans to retire,” Lake Mead spokeswoman Christie Vanover said of Richardson.

The Jackson Hole News and Guide broke the story about Masica’s retirement, prompted by a rejected reassignment to the Park Service’s Midwestern regional office in Omaha, Nebraska.

Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk will retire in September after a 43-year career, rather than accept a transfer to Washington, D.C. Wenk’s last day will be Sept. 29.

Jon Jarvis, the former director of the National Park Service who stepped down in January 2017, has been critical of how the Interior Department has handled the Park Service’s executive shake-up.

“There’s no sort of logical good for the Park Service or the government here,” Jarvis told the News and Guide. “Moving them out of their current jobs really doesn’t make any management sense. I think it’s just a power play on the part of the (Interior) department to say that they’re in charge.”

Zinke spokeswoman Heather Swift said agency officials acted within their legal authority when making reassignments.

Approximately 225 Interior personnel are considered senior employees, known formally as the Senior Executive Service, the agency’s uppermost echelon.

Twenty-seven of the 35 who received reassignment notifications last year were actually reassigned. Three others resigned, three had their reassignments rescinded and two stayed in their positions pending retirement, the report said.

Richardson has been superintendent of Lake Mead National Recreation Area since 2015, and she’ll step away after 28 years of federal government employment. Her retirement date has not been determined, Vanover said.

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