ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona will soon become the regional director of Alaska's national parks, National Park Service officials announced this week.
Robert Arnberger, top administrator at Grand Canyon for the past six years, will replace Bob Barbee when Barbee retires in October.
As regional director, Arnberger will oversee 15 national park units totaling 54.7 million acres, or roughly two-thirds of the land in the entire national park system. Alaska's park system has an annual budget of more than $35 million and employs more than 400 people, park spokesman John Quinley said.
Barbee, who was with the Park Service for 42 years, earned a reputation in Alaska as an administrator who worked well with diverse interests, from conservationists and state officials to members of Alaska's congressional delegation and residents of communities surrounding the parks.
As regional director, Barbee worked on the phase-out of commercial fishing in Glacier Bay National Park and on building up infrastructure for a growing number of tourists at Denali and Wrangell-St. Elias national parks. He also worked on recent regulations banning recreational snowmachining from the core of Denali National Park and Preserve.
Like Barbee, Arnberger is coming from a large Western park surrounded by controversy.
Most recently, as superintendent at the Grand Canyon, Arnberger worked to manage air tours over the canyon to cut down on noise. He also oversaw work on a new management plan and an environmental study on the impact of building a new village outside the park and a new transportation system to cut down on traffic and improve air quality.
A 31-year veteran of the Park Service, Arnberger has served as superintendent at parks in Arizona and Texas.
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