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San Francisco, Calif., August 22, 2008 – Yosemite National Park Superintendent Mike Tollefson will be leaving his post at the end of the year to become the new president of the nonprofit Yosemite Fund, it was announced today by The Yosemite Fund and the National Park Service.
"With his leadership, vision and familiarity with all aspects of the park, we are confident that our record of success and growth to preserve and protect Yosemite will continue in the years to come," said Hal Cranston, chairman of The Yosemite Fund. "We are extremely fortunate that Mike is joining the Fund."
The selection of Tollefson culminated a six month national search conducted by the organization’s Transition Task Force and Board of Trustees.
"I am excited to help those who care about Yosemite to preserve and protect the park’s future. My overarching goal will be to build on The Yosemite Fund’s successes of the last 20 years. I feel uniquely positioned to continue to support Yosemite’s special projects and initiatives through private funding and resources," said Tollefson.
Working as partners with the National Park Service, The Yosemite Fund is the primary fundraising arm for trails, habitat, wildlife, visitor center exhibits and cultural preservation projects in Yosemite National Park. During the last 20 years, the organization has blossomed to 100,000 donors, who have generously contributed more than $45 million for over 200 park improvement projects. Tollefson will join The Yosemite Fund in January 2009.
"It has been a pleasure and a highlight of my life to be superintendent of Yosemite National Park and to work with all of the dedicated employees and partners that pull together to make Yosemite the unique and special place that so many love," he said. "I am proud of all that we have accomplished together. Yosemite is a better place for the visitor and the resource is more protected."
Tollefson has been the superintendent of Yosemite National Park since December 2002. His 36-year career with the National Park Service includes the superintendency of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in California, Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee. He also has been in policy leadership positions in the National Park Service regional office in the Pacific Northwest.
As Superintendent of Yosemite National Park, Tollefson has guided a major construction program repairing old infrastructure, improving visitor services and providing increased resource protection. The shuttle bus fleet has been replaced with hybrid electric buses. Sister park relationships have been established between parks in both Chile and China.
Donor contributions to The Yosemite Fund have transformed countless areas of Yosemite National Park since its inception in 1987. In just the last three years, The Yosemite Fund has completed a $13.5 million restoration of the approach to Yosemite Falls, and a $1.5 million restoration of Olmsted Point. It has completed a $13.5 million campaign to improve many of Yosemite’s most loved trails in Yosemite Valley, the Mariposa Grove of Redwoods and in the backcountry. This year, the Fund and the National Park Service have together undertaken a Centennial Challenge project. The $3.2 million Tunnel View Restoration Project will be completed and dedicated this October. Tollefson takes over for Bob Hansen, who led the organization for 20 years, and announced that he was leaving The Yosemite Fund earlier this year.
"Mike is the perfect choice to lead The Yosemite Fund and work with the National Park Service, donors, and many others to improve the park in the years ahead," said Hansen. "I have been fortunate to be associated with many of the park’s sung and unsung heroes and to hold the trust of individuals who care so deeply for this place that they would provide their personal gifts in its favor. The passion of these people for Yosemite, like Mike Tollefson and those at the Fund, will continue to achieve what John Muir exhorted us all to do: ‘make the mountains glad.’"
For more information about The Yosemite Fund, see www.yosemitefund.org or call 1-800-4MYPARK.