December 17 Road Closure Near Visitor Center
December 17: Badlands Loop Road (Highway 240) will be temporarily closed at Cedar Pass for emergency repair work. The closure is expected to be in place for two to three weeks, weather dependent. An alternate route to access Interstate 90 will be posted. More »
Eric J. Brunnemann named Superintendent for Badlands National Park
Contact: Patty Rooney, (402) 661-1532
OMAHA, Neb. — Eric J. Brunnemann, currently Superintendent at Pinnacles National Monument (NM), Paicines, Calif., has been named the new Superintendent of Badlands National Park, Interior, S.D. Brunnemann will begin this new assignment on August 29. He succeeds Paige Baker, who retired from Federal service in December 2009.
“Eric’s work with tribal governments and experience managing both natural and cultural resources will be of great benefit at Badlands,” said National Park Service (NPS) Midwest Regional Director Ernest Quintana. “We look forward to having Eric as a part of the Midwest management team.”
Brunnemann began his NPS career as a seasonal Museum Aid in 1989 at Fort Davis National Historic Site in Fort Davis, Texas. He worked as a seasonal Park Ranger (Interpretation) and Student Trainee (Archeology, Park Ranger, and Interpretation) at Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque, N.M., before converting to permanent status as a Park Ranger (Interpretation) at the park in 1995. Brunnemann also served as an Archeologist and Cultural Resources Specialist at the park. He became Cultural Resources Manager for the Southeast Utah Group in 1999, working from Moab, Utah. Following an Acting Superintendent assignment at Natural Bridges and Hovenweep National Monuments in Utah in 2001, Brunnemann was named the Superintendent at War in the Pacific (on Guam) and American Memorial Park (on Saipan), duty stationed in (Hagatna, Guam). He began his current position in 2005.
Brunnemann said of this new opportunity, “This is an incredible opportunity to combine the skills and experiences I have had with NPS, together with my experience in cultural and tribal relations, to be a part of Badland's future. I have watched with admiration the work of Paige Baker as Badlands developed its GMP with the Oglala Sioux, and I am honored to now have the opportunity to be part of this journey.”
A Texas native, Brunnemann earned his Associate of Arts degree through San Antonio College in advertising, and received his Bachelor of Arts in Archeology from the University of Texas, Austin (1984). Brunnemann holds a Master of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Texas, Austin (1988). He went on to earn a second Master of Arts in American Studies (Colonial Studies) in 1995 from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.
Brunnemann and his wife Wendy met while in Albuquerque at Petroglyph National Monument; Wendy an archeologist with the City of Albuquerque, and Eric the archeologist for NPS. They have two children, Catriona and Aidan, who are well traveled and attend a one-room school outside Pinnacles NM where Wendy is a teacher. Brunnemann’s aptitude is reaching beyond park boundaries. On Guam he brought Navajo code talkers back to the Pacific to meet in Japan at Iwo Jima. At Pinnacles he worked with Rotary of San Juan Bautista and the park’s 501c3 (Pinnacles Partnership) to establish a Sister Park with Parque Nacional Quebrada del Condorito in Argentina.
Prior to his work with the NPS, Brunnemann completed coursework with the Archeological Field School, Boston University, near Braga, Portugal; served as a contract Archeological Illustrator for Stanford University in Greece; was under contract as an Archeological Crew Supervisor for the University of Texas; and served as Education Program Coordinator for the San Antonio Museum Association.
Brunnemann is the recipient of the NPS 2007 Pacific West Region Superintendent of the Year for Natural Resource Stewardship Award. He was also awarded The Order of the Chamorri by the Governor of Guam in 2005 for providing exemplary service to the native people of Guam. In 1997, Brunnemann received the NPS Intermountain Region Regional Director’s Award, bestowed for Educational Excellence for Cultural Resource Management.
Established as Badlands National Monument in 1939 and redesignated in 1978, Badlands National Park consists of 244,000 acres of sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles and spires blended with the largest, protected mixed grass prairie in the United States. The Badlands Wilderness Area covers 64,000 acres and is the site of the reintroduction of the black-footed ferret, the most endangered land mammal in North America. The Stronghold Unit is co-managed with the Oglala Sioux Tribe and includes sites of 1890s Ghost Dances. Over 11,000 years of human history pale to the ages old paleontological resources. Badlands National Park contains the world's richest Oligocene epoch fossil beds, dating 37 - 28 million years old, allowing scientists to study the evolution of mammal species such as the horse, sheep, rhinoceros, and pig in the Badlands formations.
Did You Know?
The Ben Reifel Visitor Center was named after Ben Reifel, the first congressman from the Sioux Nation, who served 5 terms. Afterwards, he served as consultant and Special Assistant for Indian Programs to the Director of the National Park Service. Badlands was his favorite national park.