U.S. National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis named Rick Obernesser as the associate director for visitor and resource protection, according to an announcement from the park service. As associate director, Obernesser will serve as the service’s senior official responsible for 30 service-wide programs, 850 employees, and a budget exceeding $200 million.
His portfolio includes law enforcement, security and emergency services, fire and aviation management, risk management and occupational safety, public health services, regulations and special park uses, wilderness stewardship, the National Park Service component at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and the U.S. Park Police.
“Rick is passionate about the National Park Service mission and does not shy away from tough questions or issues,” said Jarvis. “His straightforward but low-key leadership style will work well within the National Park Service’s leadership team.”
A seasoned National Park Service employee, Obernesser has worked in eight national parks during his 30 plus years of service. He is currently the superintendent of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska, the largest National Park Service site in the country. His experience in parks across the country with diverse and complex resources has culminated in a wide range of experiences that will enhance his leadership in visitor and resource protection.
Throughout his career, Obernesser has demonstrated strong leadership skills and a keen ability to listen to people’s concerns and perspectives, working directly with stakeholders to address issues and solve problems collaboratively. He began his park service career as a field ranger and has served at sites including Great Smoky Mountains, Yosemite and Yellowstone national parks.
“My wife and I are thrilled to have the opportunity to move back to the D.C. area,” said Obernesser. “I am excited, honored and humbled to have a chance to work with the accomplished and professional staff in the Visitor and Resource Protection Directorate and continue the great work being done there.”
Obernesser holds a bachelor of science degree in environmental resources with a minor in economics from Sacramento State University. He and his wife Pamela will move to Washington in October.