News Release

Chris Wilcox selected as new chief for NPS Fire and Aviation Management

Chris Wilcox stands in front of the American flag.
Chris Wilcox joins the National Park Service as the new Fire and Aviation Management division chief.


News Release Date: May 11, 2023

Contact: Tina Boehle, 208-387-5875

Christopher “Chris” Wilcox, former chief for the Branch of Fire Management with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), has been named as the new chief for the National Park Service (NPS) Division of Fire and Aviation Management. The position was previously held by Bill Kaage who retired in July 2022. Chris is the first to encumber the division chief role as a member of the Senior Executive Service (SES).

Chris began his government career in 1993, as a seasonal working leader on the Heber Interagency Hotshot Crew (IHC) with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). His qualifications included squad boss/saw boss, sawyer, and engine crew member.

He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Northern Arizona University in 1997 while still working seasonally for the USFS. In 1999, he detailed to the National Forests of North Carolina as a hotshot squad boss. In 2001, returning to Arizona, he became the superintendent of the Heber IHC.

His first position with the USFWS came in 2003 when he became the assistant zone fire management officer (FMO) for the state of Arizona. In that position, he coordinated with refuge managers to integrate fire management into the refuge’s goals and objectives and accomplish fire management objectives. From there, he became the zone FMO for the bureau in New Mexico. As zone FMO, he established a statewide USFWS youth education and hunt program with emphasis on children with disabilities and terminal illnesses. He conducted the first prescribed fire in the White Sands Missile Range under the Department of Defense; served as a core developer and facilitated the Dude Fire staff ride; and was selected to participate in the Australia/New Zealand Fire Management Study Tour.

In 2009, Chris moved to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho and served in several USFWS positions, including as the national fire operations program leader, the deputy branch chief for Operations, and then as chief for the Branch of Fire Management. As chief, he has served on various leadership groups, including the Interior Fire Executive Council, the Fire Management Board, the National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group, the National Wildfire Coordinating Group Executive Board. His accomplishments include receiving the Department of the Interior’s Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his leadership of the nation’s wildland firefighting community during the global pandemic; coordinated an agreement with the Department of Labor that resulted in hiring 40 permanent apprentices to promote diversity within the next generation of USFWS fire leadership. He also established a mental health and wellness position within the USFWS Branch of Fire Management.

Chris lives in Boise with his wife Triniti and two daughters, Alyssa and Tristin. Chris and his family spend their free time rafting, camping, and enjoying other outdoor pursuits. He began his new position with the NPS as of May 7, 2023.

Last updated: May 11, 2023