With summer winding down and Fran getting ready to head out the door with her very own National Parks Pass, the rumors are flying left and right as to who will replace her as director. The latest tidbit is that Mary Bomar, a naturalized U.S. citizen who also happens to be the Northeast regional director, is in line to become just the second woman to head the Park Service.
I understand her selection is so far along that the FBI is conducting a background check on Mary.
This could be an interesting selection, but one not all will rise to support. Mary, after all, was selected by Fran to become superintendent of Independence Hall and then promoted to regional director. More distressingly, she apparently was a key player in the pending decision to cut Independence Square in half with a 7-foot-tall fence so as to keep terrorists away from the Liberty Bell.
Is that any way to let liberty ring?
Might that be a sign that Mary, a Brit by birth who moved to the U.S. as a young girl, would be more likely as director to "protect" more national park sites with those concrete dividers known as "Jersey Barriers," fences, or other blockades that could keep Americans more removed from their history?
Will we have to become as adept as mice in negotiating mazes to see places like the Jefferson Memorial, the Statute of Liberty (which already has its own security overkill issues), and places where Washington slept?
One thing Mary definitely has learned during her time in the states is how to play politics. When Fran announced her resignation, Mary was one of the first to write a fawning goodbye letter, one she shared with all employees in the Northeast region. Here's what she had to say:
For each of us, when the story of our life is written, it will not recount our material wealth or our fame, but how we made this world a better place. That is our legacy, the part of us that transcends time.
I think you will all agree that when history is written about National Park Service Director Fran Mainella, it will reflect a legacy of caring—about parks and about people.
Her role in changing the National Park Service will also transcend time. Her vision for a seamless network of parks, places and open spaces emphasized partnerships, volunteerism and outreach to achieve collaborative conservation.
"Well done is better than well said," wrote Benjamin Franklin, knowing that we will all be judged by our deeds. I am confident that the "future generations" we serve will honor her for her passion, her energy and her steadfast commitment to the mission of the National Park Service.
While the voices of those future generations have yet to be heard, I know the entire Northeast Region Team will join me in expressing our appreciation for her leadership and best wishes for her future.
Well done, Fran—well done indeed!
Phew! Dripping, ain't it?
If Mary is so high on how Fran ran the agency, her selection as director could be an ominous sign that the national park system will continue to suffer from underfunding and a director who will act as the administration instructs her, not in the best interests of the national parks.