Tom Clark, superintendent of the Southern Four Corners Group, stationed at Canyon de Chelly National Monument, will be retiring on December 31st with 30 years of federal service, almost 18 of them with the National Park Service.
Tom grew up in eastern Arizona and received a BS degree in wildlife management and an MS in zoology from Arizona State University. He began his federal career in 1973 with the US Forest Service as a wildland firefighter on the Tonto National Forest in Arizona, earning money each summer to pay his way through college. After five years as a research and teaching assistant at Arizona State University, Tom reentered federal service as a biological technician for a season with the Bureau of Land Management in Safford, Arizona, and three seasons with the US Forest Service Experimental Station stationed near John Day, Oregon.
He gained permanent status in 1985 and worked under the job title of environmentalist with the US Army in Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. When accused of being an environmentalist, he could pull out his SF-50 to prove that the government had already officially labeled him as one.
Tom’s next job was with the US Navy as the head of the environmental office for the Naval Air Station in Lemoore, California. There, he oversaw hazardous waste programs for the light attack wing of the Pacific Fleet and says that he saw environmental cleanups that would turn a person’s hair white.
Next stop was back to the Army as an ecologist at Ft. Irwin, California. There, Tom did studies of desert tortoise and other rare desert species on the Army’s National Training Center and the Goldstone Deep Space Communication Center.
Tom then returned to the Bureau of Land Management as a wildlife biologist in Barstow, California. He worked as a planner doing biological and GIS work covering the western Mojave Desert for a multi-species habitat conservation plan, which included six federal agencies, two state agencies, eleven cities, five counties, and numerous non-governmental organizations as partners.
In 1995, Tom joined the National Park Service as the division chief for resource management and science at Capitol Reef National Park in what he calls a dream job for any biologist. He spent thirteen years there and hiked many of the slickrock canyons of the Waterpocket Fold and around the spires of Cathedral Valley. Some of his accomplishments there include helping write the park’s GMP, retiring 11 grazing allotments, developing a national award-winning partnership with BLM and USFS to manage rare plant species, reintroducing bighorn sheep, working on RS2477 issues with Garfield County, developing a very active park horse program, and starting the survey and fencing of the park’s boundary. He also served as chair of the Colorado Plateau Natural Resources Advisory Committee and as chair of the Technical Committee of the Northern Colorado Plateau I&M Network for many years.
In 2008, Tom moved into the very challenging role as superintendent of Canyon de Chelly National Monument. Since the monument is composed entirely of tribal trust land, Tom developed partnerships with numerous Navajo Nation agencies to resolve issues where the park’s enabling legislation had given authority to the tribe. Tom and his staff worked cooperatively with Navajo Parks and Recreation (NPRD) to establish a cooperative agreement for the NPRD to take over the operation and maintenance of the Cottonwood Campground. The Navajo Nation now has their presence at Canyon de Chelly with an office and a small staff.
Tom also worked on improving relationships with the local chapters, BIA, and the canyon residents who farm and make their livelihood within this sacred landscape. In 2011, Tom moved into his current job as superintendent for the Southern Four Corners Group, which includes Canyon de Chelly NM, Hubbell Trading Post NHS, and Navajo NM.
One of the highlights that Tom enjoyed tremendously were the numerous hikes that he took part in with his staff to explore new areas of the canyon and trails.
“It has been an enjoyable time,” says Tom, “and I want to thank everyone I have worked with for their support, guidance, and friendships.”
After retirement, Tom has plans to expand his woodworking shop, hike, bike, ski, travel, and spend more time exploring the redrock country around southern Utah. He and his wife Debi, will continue to live in Torrey, Utah.
The park will be hosting a retirement celebration in honor of Superintendent Clark on Friday January 11th. For more information on the celebration, please contact Wilson Hunter at 928-674-5500, ext. 225 or email@example.com.