The superintendent and chief of planning and resource management for Valley Forge National Historical Park have been honored by the National Parks Conservation Association for their stewardship of the park.
In bestowing its Stephen T. Mather Award on Superintendent Mike Caldwell and planning chief Deirdre Gibson the NPCA noted their efforts to ensure the protection of Valley Forge in the years ahead.
“Mike and Deirdre have demonstrated both professionally and personally, their commitment to resource protection and the long-term integrity of Valley Forge,” said NPCA President Tom Kiernan. “Because of their leadership and tireless efforts, Valley Forge will be protected and preserved for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.”
This year marks the culmination of a multi-faceted and multiple-year effort that NPCA official say successfully addressed many challenges at Valley Forge. Those efforts "greatly improved the park’s natural and cultural resource protection plans and visitor experience," the park advocacy group said.
“No matter what the challenge, Mike and Deirdre are committed to Valley Forge’s long-range integrity and their leadership should be commended for working to protect our national treasure,” said Cinda Waldbuesser, NPCA’s senior program manager in Pennsylvania.
According to the NPCA, in the past five years at Valley Forge, Mr. Caldwell and Ms. Gibson have successfully implemented sound management policies and have led numerous long-term projects into fruition. Specifically, they have played critical roles in:
• Adopting a strong General Management Plan for the national park;
• Negotiating the final agreement for an asbestos removal plan co-signed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Park Service to clean up 100 acres of asbestos-contaminated land (inherited by the Park Service when Valley Forge transferred from a state authority to the Park Service in 1976);
• Implementing a deer management plan that withstood ten years of public meetings and analysis;
• Transforming the cultural landscape at Washington’s Headquarters into an iconic, memorable, context-based visitor experience; and
• Securing the last in-holding at the park that was threatened by an outsized development proposal within park boundaries, which will now ensure our national heritage is protected for future generations to enjoy.
First presented in 1984, NPCA’s Stephen T. Mather Award is named after the first director of the National Park Service Stephen T. Mather. Those who receive the award have shown steadfast leadership and persistent dedication to the national parks.