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DINOSAUR I Southeast Regional Director Stan Austin has announced that Mary Risser, a 32-year career employee of the National Park Service (NPS), and Superintendent of Dinosaur National Monument, will become superintendent of Natchez Trace Parkway.
Risser is currently on assignment as acting deputy regional director and chief of staff for the Intermountain Region of the NPS until the end of November.
Since 2005, Risser served as superintendent of 210,000-acre Dinosaur National Monument. She made the highly controversial decision to close the old Quarry Visitor Center because of its structural instability. She then secured the funding and oversaw the construction of the new Quarry Visitor Center and rehabilitation of the Quarry Exhibit Hall, which protects the 100-foot long by 50-foot high wall of almost 1,500 dinosaur fossils.
She reorganized the paleontology program, which has resulted in the park leveraging $200,000 into well over $1 million worth of paleontological research in the last five years. And during her time at Dinosaur, she also supported research into conditions of Dinosaur’s two rivers – the Green and Yampa, the only remaining large tributary in the Colorado River system that retains its free-flowing character.
Risser commented, “Natchez Trace will be a huge change for me. The parkway spans 444 miles through three states, 25 counties and 20 communities. It also goes through seven ecological regions. Visitation in 2010 approached 14 million, which makes it the 8th most visited National Park Service unit.
Risser began her public service career in 1979, by serving as the assistant field representative for U.S. Sen. Richard S. Schweiker in central Pennsylvania. In 1983, she began her National Park Service career in the office of Employee and Labor Relations in the National Capital Region in Washington D.C. A March ski vacation to Jackson Hole in 1984 convinced her to move west and she applied for the first job she saw at Grand Teton National Park.
Risser is currently acting deputy regional director for the Intermountain Region of the National Park Service.