Ryvers Loomis / GNPC
Former Redwood National Park deputy superintendent, Dave Roemer, started his new position as the superintendent at Glacier National Park in July 2022. The Glacier Conservancy caught up with Dave to learn about his new role and his goals for Glacier.
Glacier National Park Conservancy: Tell us a little about yourself and your path to becoming the Superintendent here at Glacier National Park.
Dave Roemer: I started working at national parks when I was nineteen, as an intern with the Student Conservation Association at Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico. I started in Interpretation but had an opportunity to move into Resources Management. My early career was filled with bird counts, bat surveys, mountain lion monitoring, and building models and maps of park resources using GIS. I continued my career path at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, Big Thicket National Preserve in Texas, and Redwood National and State Parks in California. Along the way I became more involved in park management and planning – which led to Deputy Superintendent and Acting Superintendent assignments. I enjoy working collaboratively with partners to build and implement lasting solutions to park challenges, and I take great satisfaction in seeing the ideas and initiatives of employees “in the field” develop into improved park practices and programs. Coming to Glacier is continuing a circular path from when I was a graduate student at the University of Montana and tromping around the Kootenai National Forest helping to survey bats, northern bog lemmings, and harlequin ducks. It’s a fantastic feeling to be returning to Montana!
GNPC: As you know, Glacier Park has been working closely with the Blackfeet Nation on the Iinnii Initiative to reintroduce native bison to the park. You have some direct experience with projects like this one through your work at Redwoods helping reintroduce the California Condor. Tell us a little about that project and how it might inform your work here in Glacier.
DR: Working with the Yurok Tribe to restore prey-go-neesh to Redwood National and State Parks and Yurok Ancestral Territory has been the most rewarding experience in my career so far. In May the first three condors were released in the park and began to explore the skies and forested landscapes from which they had been absent for longer than a century. Commitment to that milestone required years of continual effort towards building partnerships, collecting and crunching data, completing environmental studies, and engaging with the public. The effort succeeded due to the strong staff-level relationships between the Tribe and the park with commitment from leadership. An essential aspect of the project is that the Tribe was the catalyst and are the leaders of the program. The National Park Service and a host of other partners recognize and respect the leadership role of the Tribe and how the return of the condor parallels the renewal of Yurok culture. The Iinnii Initiative similarly encompasses both ecological and cultural landscapes and is important for the prairie ecosystem and the cultural and spiritual wellbeing of the Blackfeet people. I feel very fortunate to get to continue to work in such a meaningful and inspiring environment where wildlife, culture, and Tribal sovereignty align in indigenous-led conservation.
GNPC: What priorities are at the top of your agenda as Superintendent?
DR: I’m joining an experienced park team that is preparing for the busy season ahead. Summer is already underway with lots of new and returning summer seasonal employees, vehicle reservations for the Going-to-the-Sun Road and the North Fork, and vital infrastructure replacement projects. As always, we are focused on preserving the integrity of park resources at the Crown of the Continent and welcoming visitors to enjoy authentic park experiences while providing for public safety. Our goals at Glacier include supporting our employees, particularly through finding creative solutions to housing challenges, workplace flexibility, and improving communication and collaboration throughout the park to all employees. Caring for and investing in our employees and volunteers is a top priority, one that has made a difference for me in my life and career. As I get settled in at Glacier, I am looking forward to meeting our park partners and sustaining the relationships that Jeff Mow has developed during his tenure as Superintendent. Partners like the Glacier National Park Conservancy make possible so much that the National Park Service cannot do alone. Our priorities in an environment where change is continuous must also address managing fire on the landscape and understanding and helping to shape the trajectory of park ecosystems. My hope is that Glacier can be a leader in sustainability, a driver of change for addressing the climate crisis, and a model for working with Tribes and partners to preserve the values of World Heritage.
GNPC: Last, what hike here in Glacier is on the top of your list, and what kinds of books might we find you reading in your spare time?
DR: To answer this question, I decided to consult with my daughter who has been busy studying maps and guidebooks. Our plan is to hike and camp out at Kintla Lake – although the trail to Upper Kintla Lake and beyond looks very enticing! It will be the first among many hikes that I hope to make with my family in Glacier. In my spare time I mostly read non-fiction, although I also enjoy short story science fiction by Ted Chiang and Jorge Luis Borges, and I do crossword puzzles to relax. I tend to seek out books on the natural history of places where I live or that I’d like to travel to – I have a lot of bird guides – and I also like to read books that examine history through new or critical perspectives. Even though I’ve been trying to pare down my book collection ahead of the move to Montana, I couldn’t resist picking up a few titles from the Conservancy Store including Glacier: A Natural History Guide and The Glacier Park Reader.
Kintla Lake / NPS Photo