Brooke Merrell is Denali National Park’s first female superintendent in 105 years

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Denali National Park has named its first female superintendent in the park’s 105-year history with the appointment of agency veteran Brooke Merrell to the position, the National Park Service has announced.

“I am honored to be selected for the position at Denali National Park and Preserve and dedicated to supporting this incredible park and community,” Merrell said in an NPS. Release. “There is so much passion for the park’s resources from park staff and community members, and I look forward to harnessing it for the benefit of all,” Merrell said.

Merrell first moved to Alaska in 2009, working on a statewide transportation plan for the National Park Service and serving as the agency’s regional environmental coordinator and leader of its planning team. and environmental compliance. In 2021, she became Assistant Park Superintendent and worked as Acting Superintendent for 9 months.

Prior to his current tenure with the Park Service, Merrell worked for DNA People’s Legal Services on the Navajo Nation, City of Portland, Columbia Riverkeeper; she also worked for Gulf Islands National Seashore. Merrell holds a law degree as well as a master’s degree in urban planning.

One of the most immediate hurdles that Merrell and the park will face is infrastructure. A particularly troublesome stretch of the park’s main road has been deteriorating for years, thanks to a slow-moving landslide beneath the road triggered by melting permafrost. Park officials covered this stretch of road with gravel, hoping to stabilize the area with temporary success. The Pretty Rocks landslide even prompted authorities to close Denali’s main road halfway through last year, severely limiting the visitor experience.

Under the supervision of Superintendent Merrell, the park will move forward with the construction of a bridge over the problem area of ​​the road, a project that will cost $91 million and could take more than 2 years, but could restore the visitor access to iconic destinations like Wonder Lake Campground and Polychrome Pass.

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