Park Service veteran Palmer “Chip” Jenkins, Jr. has been named the next superintendent of Grand Teton National Park.
Jenkins told local media in a call on Tuesday that he was attracted to job in Northwest Wyoming both for personal and professional reasons.
“It is an iconic landscape,” Jenkins said, “that is also filled with iconic stories that have been told.”
The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, he said, is the site of some of the most significant conservation work that’s occurred on the planet, and the region has the reputation for “excellence.” Being a part of it was “compelling.”
Decades ago, Jenkins dated his now-wife, Laurie, while she was an employee at Yellowstone National Park, and he’s visited the area many times since. As his career unfolded, he bounced around national parks in states like California, Washington and Oregon and became familiar with western landscapes that became important to him.
Jenkins departs from Rainier, where he’s worked as the superintendent since 2018.
He steps in for Gopaul Noojibail, who’s been in an acting supervisory role for Teton Park ever since former superintendent David Vela was named acting director of the National Park Service more than two years ago. Noojibail will revert to the deputy superintendent, and Jenkins said he’s really looking forward to working with him.
U.S. Department of Interior and National Park Service higher-ups praised Jenkins’ hire in a press release distributed on Tuesday.
Teton Village resident Rob Wallace, Interior’s Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, said he’d be a “great fit.”
“Chip is adept at building coalitions,” Wallace said, “and finding innovative and collaborative solutions to tough challenges.”
The Park Service’s regional director, Michael Reynolds, thanked Noojibail for his extended detail and remarked in a statement that Jenkins will bring “extensive” experience working with local communities and partners.
Jenkins is a “Senior Executive Service” employee for the National Park Service, which means he’s a “GS-14” and “GS-15”- level staffer who’s graduated from a training program. Members of the service hold high-ranking jobs at the regional offices, Washington, D.C. headquarters, and lead the agency’s premiere parks, but in exchange they’re required to go wherever their bosses tell them.
Jenkins’ career with the National Park Service has spanned 34 years. Prior to Rainier, he had a superintendent role at North Cascades National Park — where he landed his first agency job as seasonal ranger. He’s also worked as superintendent of Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, acting superintendent of Yosemite National Park, and as a deputy regional director and acting regional director.
The start date for Grand Teton National Park’s new superintendent is not firm, but he’ll likely relocate to Moose after the calendar turns to 2021. By the middle of December, however, he’ll have started the transition virtually.
Jenkins’ wife, Laurie, still works for the National Park Service, currently in the National Natural Landmarks program, and will relocate with her husband. The couple has two sons, one a senior at the University of Washington and one a freshman at Montana State University.