New park service chief sees 'convergence'





Reporting from Martinez, Calif. - It used to be that to run the National Park Service, the director in Washington would simply open the front gates on a system that was intended to protect treasured landscapes, preserve history, and serve as a refuge for wildlife and a salve for visitors seeking the peace of wild places.

In contemporary times, however, the job of overseeing John Muir's "cathedrals of nature" requires presiding over fights of partisanship, science, religion and the appropriate telling of the American story.

For Jon Jarvis, the newly named director of the National Park Service, the future of the 391-unit system promises similar controversy...

... So why does Jarvis, a biologist who's spent more than 30 years in the agency -- the last seven as the park service's Oakland-based regional director -- tap his toes with excitement about the job he begins today?

"It's a convergence, an incredibly great moment in time," Jarvis said in his first interview since being confirmed by the Senate. Sitting at a picnic table in a grove of pecan trees at the John Muir National Historic Site, he laid out why he believes the parks are on the brink of a rejuvenation, beginning with the six-part Ken Burns documentary that just aired on PBS...


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