Lake Roosevelt
Administrative History
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Charting the Course: Managers and Management Issues

Park managers and employees have guided the development and operations of Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area (LARO) from its inception. The initial skeleton staff had the monumental task of establishing a recreation area where there had been neither a park nor even a lake before. Over the years the staff has multiplied and the jobs have specialized. Working first under the 1946 Tri-Party Agreement and now under the 1990 Cooperative Management Agreement, eleven superintendents and their staffs have built and maintained facilities, developed and run a wide variety of programs for the public, and enforced an increasingly complex set of regulations, laws, and agreements. This chapter profiles park managers and discusses selected management issues, some resolved and others ongoing, that have helped shape LARO and its daily operations over the years.

Superintendent Highlights

The National Park Service began working at Lake Roosevelt in 1941, five years before it accepted management responsibilities for the area. After nearly thirty years under Park Service direction, LARO officially became a unit of the National Park System following passage of the Act of August 18, 1970 (Public Law 91-383).

During the sixty years of Park Service management at LARO, there have been eleven superintendents. Three of them (Claude E. Greider, Homer W. Robinson, and Gary J. Kuiper) had relatively long tenures, ranging from nine to twelve years; two (Howard H. Chapman and David A. Richie) remained for brief terms of less than two years; and the remaining six (Hugh Peyton, Wayne R. Howe, William N. Burgen, William W. Dunmire, Gerald W. Tays, and Vaughn L. Baker) have led the park for periods of three to five years.

Claude E. Greider, the first superintendent at LARO, guided the park through the entire planning stage and into the initial development. Greider was a State Supervisor with the Park Service in Portland when he was appointed in November 1939 to head the Problem No. 26 committee that was looking into the recreational potential for the lake that would form behind Grand Coulee Dam. He secured the services of Philip W. Kearney, Associate Landscape Architect, who became the first Park Service employee at the slowly rising reservoir in March 1941. Greider joined him in late December 1942, doubling the staff. With the arrival of Frances Fleischauer, a clerk-typist, in March 1943, the initial Park Service office was complete. Budgets were equally small, with just $10,000 a year supplied from Reclamation. Because it came from project funds, the appropriation could be used only for administration and planning, with nothing for construction or development work. [1]

Both personnel and budgets increased by the late 1940s. Greider's staff grew following the signing of the Tri-Party Agreement in December 1946 that established the Park Service as the agency in charge of administering the national recreation area (NRA). LARO gained an engineer, landscape architect, chief ranger, and clerk-stenographer by May 1947, but Greider still termed this number "barely adequate" to do the current work. [2] By mid-1950, another ranger and a boat operator had joined the staff, bringing the total to eight. The initial Congressional appropriation of $26,000 for LARO came in FY1949. Greider knew he needed much more money to start development work at the park. He was particularly concerned that the Park Service get basic road and utility work completed to encourage private development with concessionaires. In addition, he recognized the need to do a massive debris cleanup on the lake to clear the waters for boating. Greider told the Regional Director that he had no suggestions for the Physical Improvements budget "other than to triple the amount of funds" if possible. [3] The following year did indeed bring a sizeable increase, with $48,600 for Administration, Protection, and Maintenance, and $137,200 for development, including roads, employee housing, and reservoir cleanup. [4]

During his eleven-year stay at the NRA, Greider worked "by the book" in planning, development, and regulations. When wartime rationing was lifted, local residents were ready to take advantage of camping and boating opportunities on the new lake. Lack of appropriations had prohibited any Park Service developments, however, and Greider discouraged recreational use of the area until the federal agency could proceed with "a conservative and orderly program." [5] This eventually caused resentment toward the Park Service, which was compounded during the prolonged fight over regulations for the new NRA. Much of this may have been due to Greider's personality, which one long-time employee described as "kind of . . . pompous." [6] He was less of a field person than later superintendents, but his office and organizational skills may have been what were needed to get the park started. Greider transferred to the Portland Office on August 12, 1953, where he took charge of the Rogue River Recreation Survey. [7]

Hugh Peyton arrived August 16 to replace Greider. He had experience at one of the two other recreation areas at the time, having been Custodian and Superintendent at Millerton Lake in Friant, California. Peyton was familiar with some of the issues facing LARO, particularly the controversy over regulations, since he and Greider had worked together to revise the rules in 1951. In contrast to the "spit-and-polish" style of the first superintendent, Peyton was a down-to-earth leader who let the employees know he was on their side. "He just turned us loose," remembered Don Everts. "Do it right or else you'll get your butt chewed." [8] Peyton was "a junk gatherer" like Everts, and the two of them procured many vehicles and loads of materials from their regular scanning of General Services Administration catalogs. These surplus materials were used throughout the park, from liners in pit toilets to the radio system. Park construction really began under Peyton, and he won the approval of many local people who were pleased to see any development at LARO. One man reported that the superintendent and his crew were "doing miracles with small money," well beyond anything Greider had done. Park supporters were pitching in to help with privately owned bulldozers and donated labor to provide "Free access to Roosevelt Lake for every body." [9] Peyton retired in January 1958. [10]

Superintendent Homer Robinson
Superintendent Homer Robinson, January 1960. Photo courtesy of National Park Service, Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area (LARO.FS).

Homer W. Robinson replaced Peyton as Superintendent, arriving at LARO February 10, 1958. Robinson began his federal career working on fire lookouts for the U.S. Forest Service in Oregon. He then transferred to the Park Service and was assigned to Yosemite, where he worked as Assistant Chief Ranger. He then served as Superintendent at Millerton Lake Recreation Area in California, followed by national monuments in Colorado. During his tenure at LARO, he guided the park during the major development work of the Mission 66 period. Robinson is remembered as a "hands-on" superintendent who liked to get out of the office and into the field where the action was. He particularly enjoyed running heavy equipment and periodically would "relieve" a LARO employee using a bulldozer during road or campground construction. His involvement continued with other types of work as well. For instance, during the restoration at Fort Spokane, Robinson fabricated the posts for the guardhouse veranda. Under Robinson's administration, LARO undertook major restorations of the historic buildings at Fort Spokane, acquired for the NRA in 1960. The park also developed its first interpretive program at the fort during this time. [11]

Even with the increased funding of the Mission 66 program, LARO still felt the pinch of too little money. As Sis Robinson, Homer's widow, remembered, "you were just working on a shoestring all the time." The Robinsons and other staff donated time to the park, helping with tree planting at the North Marina or clearing rocks and brush at Keller Ferry on a Sunday. Like Peyton before him, Robinson stretched the park budget by taking advantage of government surplus materials available through GSA catalogs. [12]

Although LARO was still a small, relatively isolated unit of the National Park System in the 1960s, Robinson and his wife believed it was important for the staff to understand their part in the larger system. Thus, whenever members of the regional office came to LARO, the Robinsons would gather their staff for a picnic with the visitors. "And we thought . . . that our people ought to know who all these supposedly important people were," Sis Robinson remembered. "We wanted our people to know . . . the people . . . who were making the rules and telling us what they wanted done. And I think we did that." A side benefit of these gatherings was giving the Regional staff a favorable impression of Coulee Dam and the NRA. After nine years at LARO, Superintendent Robinson retired from the Park Service in 1967. He and Sis lived in Myrtle Point, Oregon, for thirteen years and then returned to Coulee Dam in 1980. [13]

Howard H. Chapman served a brief stint as LARO Superintendent in 1967. After graduating with a degree in forestry from Colorado State University, he started as a ranger with the Park Service at Saratoga National Historic Park in New York. He later moved on to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, the Northeast Regional Office in Philadelphia, Yellowstone National Park, and Albright Training Center in Arizona. He came to LARO in late February from Blue Ridge Parkway where he had been Chief Park Ranger. Chapman had considerable management training and evidently needed experience as a Superintendent before moving on to a higher position. In November 1967, he transferred to Grand Teton National Park where he served as Superintendent until December 1971. He then accepted an appointment as Regional Director for the Western Region, remaining in that position until May 1987. During his brief time at LARO, the park began to formalize policies for managing the NRA lands, including private docks. These issues got more attention during the next decade. [14]

Chapman was followed by David A. Richie, who came to LARO in November 1967 with a background in law. He graduated from Haverford College and followed it with a law degree from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. His initial years of government service included work as Assistant Superintendent at Mount Rainier National Park. He remained at LARO until August 1969, when he resigned to teach history at Westtown School, a private Quaker school in Pennsylvania. He then returned to the Park Service in July 1971 as the Superintendent for the George Washington Memorial Parkway. He followed this with an appointment as Deputy Regional Director of the North Atlantic Region from January 1974 to March 1976. Richie then transferred to the Appalachian National Scenic Trail where he served as Project Manager from March 1976 until July 1987. [15]

Superintendent David A. Richie presenting awards to LARO employees
Superintendent David A. Richie presenting awards to LARO employees Don Everts, Bert Norton, and Lee Randall, April 1969. Photo courtesy of National Park Service, Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area (LARO.FS).

Wayne R. Howe replaced Richie at LARO in August 1969. He had been with the Park Service since 1946, working at Crater Lake, Olympic, and Sequoia-Kings Canyon. He was then promoted to Chief Ranger at Bryce Canyon, followed by Assistant Chief Ranger at Yosemite and Chief Ranger at Yellowstone. He had most recently headed the Branch of Visitor Activities Management at Park Service headquarters in Washington, D.C., since 1966. When he arrived at LARO, he was excited about what he perceived as the park's untapped recreational possibilities. Fishing enthusiasts had discovered walleye pike in Lake Roosevelt by the mid-1960s, and the popularity of this fish increased rapidly by the next decade, bringing recognition — and visitors — to LARO. [16]

One of the most challenging issues for Howe was the ramifications of the Red Power movement on the local reservations that took the form of disagreements over fishing rights as well as physical confrontations at the Sanpoil campground. He became the initial Park Service representative to the Secretary of the Interior's Task Force that formed in 1972 to investigate complaints from both the Colville Confederated Tribes (CCT) and the Spokane Tribe of Indians (STI). After he transferred to the regional office in July 1972, Howe represented that office on the Task Force. He continued to work as the Associate Regional Director for Management and Operations for the Pacific Northwest Region until February 1976. [17]

Following Howe's reassignment to the regional office, William N. Burgen took over as LARO Superintendent in July 1972. His previous station had been the Albright Training Academy at Grand Canyon, Arizona. His four-and-a-half year stay at LARO saw visitation rise once again, after falling during construction of the third powerhouse for Grand Coulee Dam. This increase in visitors was reflected in the budgets as well. The appropriation for FY1975 totaled just over $425,000. This increased dramatically the following year to $1,187,580, which included funding for FY1976 as well as the Transition Quarter as federal budgets made the change from calendar to fiscal year. Once back to the twelve-month appropriation in FY1977, the budget still showed a considerable increase over FY1975, with a total of $976,820. [18]

Under Burgen's leadership, the seasonal work force expanded to a total of seventy-two in 1976, with one in Administration, thirty-five in Maintenance, and thirty-six in the Ranger Division. These included six minority men and nineteen women (four of whom were minority). Burgen reported that the park had recruited a higher than average number of minorities for the Region but was lower than average with female recruits, "probably because we hire so few temporaries or seasonals in clerical positions." [19] The park also increased its participation in programs under Title I of the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA). Eight enrollees worked with Maintenance all summer, but the park had mixed reviews for the program. Even though the salaries were paid with CETA funding, the teenagers needed considerable supervision, and staff viewed the program "more as a service to the community than a benefit to the Area." [20]

During Burgen's tenure at LARO, tensions continued between the Park Service and the neighboring CCT and STI. Incidents on both reservations suggested to Burgen that the Indians were attempting to seize control of all the lands in the Indian Zones. The 1974 Solicitor's Opinion concerning tribal rights at Lake Roosevelt caused the Secretary of the Interior to order the Park Service, Reclamation, and Bureau of Indian Affairs to negotiate a new management agreement that would include the tribes. Negotiations stalled almost immediately, but the Park Service worked out an agreement with the tribes to return the federal campgrounds within the Indian Zones to tribal ownership.

Another trend that began under Burgen's leadership was the move to get control over special use permits and encroachments. The park hired its first Land Management Specialist in 1974, who began full-time work to inventory permits and check transgressions. This effort increased considerably a decade later.

Burgen transferred to Yosemite in January 1977 and was replaced by William W. Dunmire, who had been serving as chief of the Interpretation Division at the Washington Support Office. The budget increased regularly during Dunmire's tenure, rising from a total of $1,060,120 in FY1978 to $1,245,579 in FY1981. During the same time, the cost per visitor dropped from $1.40 to $1.34. By 1980, LARO had twenty-five permanent employees and seventy seasonals, in addition to twenty-four young people in the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) during the summer and another ten youths year-round in the Young Adult Conservation Corps (YACC). [21]

Dunmire led the team that wrote the first General Management Plan (GMP) for LARO in 1980. The Park Service moved away from Master Plans in the late 1970s because it found that it was often spending considerable money on elaborate plans that were never completed. The agency instead instituted biennial Statements for Management to supplement the more complete GMP, which ideally was updated every fifteen to twenty years. The GMP provides overall direction and management philosophy for individual units of the National Park System. During the GMP process, the Park Service consults with other agencies and members of the public to develop an approach to managing the park and its resources. Dunmire and LARO staff, assisted by the Denver Service Center (DSC), began work on the GMP in 1978. Information gained from a visitor-use survey that summer and four public meetings in 1979 provided direction for four proposed alternatives. The final document, approved in July 1980, described park facilities; provided visitor statistics and priority needs; and outlined directions for park programs. [22]

After Dunmire left LARO in February 1981 to take a position as Superintendent of Carlsbad Caverns, he was replaced by Gary J. Kuiper, who arrived in May 1981 from the Grand Canyon. After his graduation from the University of Montana, Kuiper transferred from seasonal work with the Forest Service to full-time employment with the Park Service. His first job in 1961 was at Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi where his work as a ranger started his career-long interest in reversing trends of inappropriate use of park lands. The Parkway, like LARO, was plagued by its narrow strip of federal land, lack of well-marked boundaries, and multiple encroachments by neighboring landowners. Kuiper worked with the park's neighbors to begin to turn the situation around. After a stint at Blue Ridge Parkway, he served as Chief Ranger at Lava Beds, where relations with the neighboring gateway community were poor. Kuiper liked the challenge of public relations and believed he helped the Park Service there to improve its image within the community. Then, from 1973-1977, he worked as the Assistant Superintendent/Chief Ranger at North Cascades National Park in Washington, where the North Cascades Highway had recently opened. Kuiper then served as Chief Ranger at the Grand Canyon until coming to LARO. "After the hectic life in the Grand Canyon," Kuiper remembered, "I came here and said, 'Is this all there is?' There was nothing in my 'in' box." [23]

LARO staff dealt with two major issues during Kuiper's time at LARO: special park uses and renegotiation of the Tri-Party Agreement. Starting with the 1982 Resources Management Plan, Kuiper and his staff began to identify the underlying problems with special park uses and moved to resolve scores of illegal uses of NRA lands. These efforts culminated in the Special Park Use Management Plan in 1990, LARO's effort to bring the NRA into line with the Servicewide policies of NPS-53. These changes in policy were unpopular with many neighboring landowners who had their long-time permits phased out for docks, buoys, stairways, and lawns. The controversy continued well into the 1990s after Kuiper retired.

Superintendent Gary J. Kuiper
Superintendent Gary J. Kuiper, no date. Photo courtesy of National Park Service, Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area (file H18 Biographical Data and Accounts, LARO.HQ.ADM).

While negotiations for a new management agreement were on the back burner during the early 1980s, the three agencies and two tribes actually sat down to talk in October 1985. The next several years were a rocky ride for the Park Service as the parties met periodically to listen to long-standing concerns. Negotiations moved from the local to national level in 1987, and a final round of meetings from 1988 into 1990 resulted in the Lake Roosevelt Cooperative Management Agreement, also known as the Multi-Party Agreement, signed on April 5, 1990.

Superintendent Kuiper was actively involved in the negotiations for the new agreement, but the primary negotiator for LARO was Kelly Cash, Assistant Superintendent. The park added this position in 1983 at the request of Regional Director Jim Tobin, and Cash filled it until his retirement in January 1995. His early career had been at Shasta Lake NRA. He then transferred to the Department of the Interior in 1968, working as a management intern in Washington, D.C. He followed this with assignments as a recreation planner in regional offices in San Francisco and Seattle. Cash then served as a Division Chief for Water Resources and, later, as Chief of Planning for the Pacific Northwest Region. After coming to LARO, Cash helped develop and implement policy on special park uses, in addition to his key role in negotiations for the Multi-Party Agreement. Kuiper came to count on Cash's good legal mind and clear grasp of policy for drafting a wide variety of documents. [24]

One of the most striking features of Kuiper's term as Superintendent was the dramatic rise in visitation that occurred in the late 1980s. The totals rose from just over 500,000 in 1985 to more than 1.7 million in 1991. This placed a strain on staff and facilities, made even more acute by the lack of budget increases. LARO received a base funding increase for the FY1985 budget but no further increases during the period of rapid growth, causing the NRA in 1989 to cut all funding for seasonal lifeguards, cancel some interpretive programs, and close the Fort Spokane visitor center one day each week. Congressman Tom Foley helped secure an additional appropriation of $570,000 for LARO for 1991, bringing the budget to over $2 million for the first time. The extra monies were earmarked for additional staff ($300,000) and for retrofit design work for boat launches to accommodate fluctuating lake levels ($270,000). Growth at the park had finally caught the attention of Congress and the Park Service, and LARO budgets increased to more than $2.5 million during CY1993. [25]

Gerald W. Tays arrived at LARO in July 1993 to take over as Superintendent after Gary Kuiper's retirement from the Park Service in April 1993. Following graduation from the University of Maine with a Master's degree in geology, Tays taught school in Switzerland for a year. He began his career with the Park Service in 1968, working at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area until transferring to Yellowstone in 1972. A meeting with Park Service Director George Hartzog led to Tays' transfer to Washington, D.C., where he worked in the Office of Legislative and Congressional Affairs for five years. During the last two years in the capital, he served as Executive Assistant to Gary Everhart, the director of the agency, tracking legislative issues and advising Everhart on legislation. After leaving the capital, he served three years as District Ranger at Mount Rainier and three years as District Manager at Marblemount in the North Cascades. Tays then went to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, where he served as both Assistant and Acting Superintendent. He returned to WASO in 1988, where he helped reestablish the Office of Legislation after it had been dismantled under Secretary of the Interior James Watt. Tays worked there for five years before transferring to LARO in 1993 to become Superintendent. [26]

Two critical issues, special park uses and management of cultural resources, had been heating up at LARO prior to Tays' appointment. During his tenure, however, a number of factors converged to create a contentious situation that contributed to his removal as Superintendent. The controversy over special use permits dated from Kuiper's term, when LARO instituted its Special Park Use Management Plan that mandated the eventual removal of all private docks on Lake Roosevelt. Some permittees vocally opposed these changes. During this same period of time, the CCT and STI had assumed responsibility for archaeological surveys on tribal lands within the Reservation Zone. When they tried to extend this to Park Service lands that encompassed their area of traditional use, Tays insisted that the tribes meet professional standards, as specified in the Archaeological Resources Protection Act and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, and follow the provisions of the National Historic Preservation Act.

The tribes resented Park Service demands and found common ground with local county commissioners who wanted greater influence over management decisions at Lake Roosevelt. While their concerns were quite different, they agreed that Superintendent Tays, with his insistence on following federal law and Park Service regulations, was a roadblock to resolving these issues. They joined forces to generate political pressure to bring change to LARO, voicing their concerns to both the Park Service and their representative to Congress. The congressional delegation was already well aware of tensions at Lake Roosevelt from several years of constituent complaints over special park uses. In March 1996, the Park Service decided that Tays could no longer be effective as Superintendent at LARO and transferred his position to the Seattle Support Office, working under Deputy Field Director William Walters. The Park Service then re-assigned Tays, under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act, to work with Washington State Parks in Olympia. He retired from the Park Service two years later and signed on with State Parks, first as a volunteer and then as an employee to begin a new program of historic preservation. [27]

The issues that led to the removal of one superintendent did not go away and soon faced Vaughn L. Baker, who was appointed Superintendent at LARO in 1996. After graduating from Montana State University with a degree in earth sciences, Baker took a job with the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation. He then transferred to the Bureau of Land Management and finally to the Park Service. His first Park Service job was at the Alaska Regional Office in 1984, followed two years later by a position at Wrangell-St. Elias in Alaska. In 1989, he was appointed Assistant Superintendent at Mammoth Cave where he stayed until taking a position at WASO in 1992. He then served as Assistant Superintendent at Shenandoah from 1994-1996. Baker was asked to take the position of Superintendent at LARO in 1996 and was able to move laterally into the job. [28]

Baker had some serious public relations issues to deal with as soon as he arrived. When he talked with others in the area, he found that relations between the Park Service and surrounding county and tribal governments were "pretty strained." In addition, he found the LARO staff "fairly demoralized . . . , especially at the management level." Baker and the Park Service decided that the best way to begin to deal with the ongoing controversies at LARO was to update the 1980 GMP, a move that had been recommended during an Operations Evaluation in 1994. Senator Slade Gorton earmarked $180,000 in the FY1997 budget to begin two years of planning. "We needed a process to re-engage everybody," said Baker, "and the planning process was the way to do it." The Park Service invited the tribes, various state and federal agencies, county and city governments, conservation groups, citizens groups, and individuals to participate in the GMP planning. [29]

The draft GMP was essentially done "in house." The primary responsibility fell to a Park Service planner, Harold Gibbs, who came from the DSC to LARO for the two-year process. Baker believed that having Gibbs live in the area would enable him to get to know the staff and the many other players at Lake Roosevelt while still having the support of the Denver office. The new plan classified all the lands around the lake into Management Areas and specified the type of development allowed. In addition, it reviewed the controversial issue of special use permits, most of which were phased out by that time. The idea proposed in the draft GMP for community access points, in lieu of private and community docks, was a new approach to this contentious issue that offered the potential to solve complaints about lack of access. In addition, such access points would lessen the Park Service's responsibility for building and maintaining public lake access. If approved, community access points would not go into effect until 2001. After numerous public meetings to discuss the draft GMP, Baker believed the process had helped address many concerns. "We weren't able to necessarily do what people thought we should do," said Baker, "but I think at least people by and large feel they . . . were heard." [30]

The controversy over phasing out special use permits, especially docks, has largely died out during Baker's administration. He and his predecessors shared the same Park Service guidelines, particularly NPS-53, but they differed some in their approach to enforcement. "A lot of this requires having great patience," noted Baker. "You always try to get people's cooperation." For instance, in 1996 eleven of the fourteen owners due to remove their private docks chose to cooperate with the Park Service. "That's pretty good," remarked Baker. Another owner went to federal court where his case was dismissed in September 2000, ending the uncertainty surrounding the remaining two docks. Similarly, the concern over cultural resource management has lessened as the Park Service found ways that Baker believes meet the intent of the laws through working with both tribes. [31]

By the late 1990s, LARO was once again feeling the pinch of a tight budget. The park had received no base funding increase since FY1995. Within two years, LARO had to cut some popular interpretive programs, and the draft GMP in 1998 noted that lack of money led to the staff being spread too thin, as well as reduced maintenance, decreased ability to protect resources, fewer programs for visitors, and reduced visitor safety. The park base was $3,321,000 in FY1998, and LARO was given a park increase in FY2000 and FY2001 to be used for protection of archaeological resources. The NRA receives additional income each year through its designation as a fee demonstration area. It collected approximately $320,000 in fees in 1999 and was allowed to keep close to 80 percent, providing extra funds for projects such as expanding launch ramps, improving accessibility in rest rooms and rehabilitating picnic shelters. [32]

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Last Updated: 22-Apr-2003