The Cuyahoga Valley National Park has a new superintendent.
Craig Kenkel, superintendent at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park in San Francisco, will start his new assignment sometime this spring, the National Park Service announced early today.
“I’m excited to soon be working with Cuyahoga Valley’s dedicated team of park staff, partners and local constituents to enhance what I believe is already a model 21st century park,” Kenkel said in a news release. “Since first visiting the park in 1992, Cuyahoga Valley has been on my personal ‘top 10 parks list.’ ”
NPS Midwest Regional Director Michael T. Reynolds said, “Craig’s leadership, experience and ability to build strong relationships and accomplish major initiatives with partner groups will serve well to meet the needs of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.”
Kenkel replaces Stan Austin, who left in May 2013 to become head of the National Park Service’s southeast region in Atlanta. Austin, who became superintendent in 2010, worked on developing a new visitor center at Boston Mills and managing white-tailed deer.
Austin replaced John Debo Jr., who retired from the Cuyahoga Valley park in 2009. Debo joined the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park as its chief fundraiser.
Kenkel began his NPS career in 1983 as an architecture student intern at the Denver Service Center. He has held a number of positions with the NPS since then.
Kenkel is a Harlan, Iowa, native. He and his nine siblings were raised on a livestock and grain farm near Earling in the southwest region of the state.
He received his bachelor of arts in architecture degree from Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, in 1985.
In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, backpacking, biking, cooking, traveling, all things mid-century modern, and improving his pool game. Kenkel said he is drawn to exploring and understanding urban/wild edges, and he looks forward to engaging in Cleveland’s sustainability and historic preservation initiatives.
Authorized as a national recreation area in 1974 and re-designated as a national park in 2000, the 33,000-acre Cuyahoga Valley park preserves rural landscapes along the Cuyahoga River between Cleveland and Akron.