The National Park Service has announced their selection of Wendy K. Janssen as the new superintendent of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, a unit of the National Park System. She replaces Pam Underhill, who recently retired this past year. Janssen is expected to assume her new position in February and will be working in cooperation with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) and its affiliated Trail clubs and volunteers, and federal, state, local and private partners in the protection and management of the Appalachian Trail (A.T.).
“The Appalachian Trail Conservancy is excited that the National Park Service has named Wendy as the new superintendent of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail. Her proven history in maintaining and developing strong partnerships will be instrumental in continued protection of the Appalachian Trail,” stated Mark Wenger, Executive Director/CEO of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
Since 2008, Janssen has served as superintendent of Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument (HAFO) and Minidoka National Historic Site (MIIN) in Idaho, with a unit of MIIN in Bainbridge Island, WA. HAFO contains the National Natural Landmark Hagerman Horse Quarry and over 600 sites with world-class paleontological resources and is one of three sites in the National Park Service that contains a portion of the Oregon National Historic Trail. MIIN protects and preserves the history and cultural resources associated with the incarceration of Japanese Americans during the Second World War and are a venue for examining the fragility of democracy during times of crisis.
During her tenure, Janssen led extensive planning and implementation efforts for both sites, including the construction of new facilities, preservation of historic camp structures, and development of education programs. In those efforts she worked with her staff to engage new audiences and involve partners to establish a cooperative and collaborative environment. Janssen also worked on many external issues affecting both parks, including wind turbines, transmission lines, and a concentrated animal feeding operation.
“Wendy’s commitment to working collaboratively and building strong partnerships have been a cornerstone of her career in the National Park Service,” said Northeast Regional Director Dennis Reidenbach. “Her excellence in those areas are just a few of the many reasons we know she is the perfect fit to lead the Appalachian Trail’s unique cooperative management system into the centennial of the National Park System in 2016, and beyond.”
Janssen has worked in management positions at parks across the country including Cabrillo National Monument, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (NRA), Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site (NHS) and Preservation District, and Whiskeytown NRA, in addition to being a planner at the Service’s Harpers Ferry Center and park ranger positions at the USS Arizona Memorial, Natchez National Historical Park (NHP), Boston NHP, Lowell NHP, Saint-Gaudens NHS, and Lyndon B. Johnson NHP.
“It is an honor to be selected as the superintendent of this much loved national treasure and the first National Scenic Trail,” Janssen said. “This ‘footpath for the people’ is a wonderful example of ‘citizen action in the public interest’ and I look forward to working with Trail staff, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, stakeholders, agency partners, neighbors and communities to continue to protect this incredible trail system and its significant resources that are accessible to millions of residents in the eastern United States.”
Janssen is a graduate of Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. She will be relocating with her husband Steven Floray, who is a museum curator with the National Park Service.
The A.T. extends about 2,180 miles from Maine to Georgia, spanning 14 states, passes through six national park units and eight forests. It is one of the longest continuously marked footpaths in the world. Volunteers typically donate more than 220,000 hours of their time doing trail-related work each year, and about two to three million visitors walk a portion of the A.T. each year. The National Park Service works in consultation and cooperation with the ATC and its affiliated trail clubs and volunteers, and federal, state, local and private partners in the Cooperative Management System.