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Contact: Barb Maynes, 360-565-3005
After 34 years in the National Park Service (NPS) and three-and-a-half years in the U.S. Army, Olympic National Park Superintendent Bill Laitner has announced his plans to retire from federal service on January 3, 2008. During his career, Laitner has worked in ten NPS areas and has served as superintendent in three of them.
“Bill Laitner has given a lifetime of dedicated and distinguished service to the American people,” said Pacific West Regional Director Jon Jarvis. “While we are sorry to see him leave the National Park Service, we congratulate him and his wife Pat, and celebrate his outstanding career.”
Laitner began working in national parks when he was 21 years old, although he remarks that his career and love for the parks actually began when he was a young boy and his family took their first vacation to Rocky Mountain National Park. In the following years, Laitner’s family visited other national parks, sparking a lifelong dream to work in America’s most treasured places.
Laitner has spent his adult life living that dream. Like many National Park Service employees, he began his career as a seasonal employee, working in Rocky Mountain, Yellowstone and Death Valley National Parks. As a permanent employee, he worked at Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina and again at Yellowstone. Laitner served as Chief of Education in three parks, Guadalupe Mountains National Park in Texas, Everglades National Park in Florida and Washington’s North Cascades National Park. He was also superintendent at three National Park Service areas, Amistad National Recreation along the Texas-Mexico border, Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and finally at Olympic National Park.
Laitner has served as superintendent of Olympic National Park since May 2003. During his tenure at Olympic, he has led a number of improvements and accomplishments.
“I’m particularly proud that we were able to recover so quickly from the storm damage of both 2006 and 2003 – these successful efforts showcase the skill and dedication of our park staff and our commitment to visitor access and enjoyment,” Laitner said.
Significant progress towards Elwha restoration was also made under Laitner’s leadership, including a vitally important three-way agreement between the park, the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and the City of Port Angeles. Another major step towards restoration was made this year with selection of a construction contractor for a new Port Angeles water treatment plant; construction of this plant, along with several other water quality protection facilities will begin early in 2008, paving the way for dam removal and restoration of the Elwha River.
Laitner has also overseen development of the park’s General Management Plan (GMP), due to be released early in 2008. The GMP will provide a framework for managing the park for the next 15 to 20 years, ensuring that park resources are protected while providing a wide variety of opportunities for visitors to enjoy Olympic. Other achievements include coordinating the first-ever meeting between the National Park Service and all eight Olympic Peninsula tribes, aimed at developing a standard agreement of how the park and peninsula tribes will work together.
Laitner and his wife Pat plan to remain in Port Angeles in the near future, but look forward to spending more time with their family, especially two young granddaughters in the Portland area.