It is a pleasure to be able to introduce Chuck Sams, of Oregon, President Biden’s nominee to be the next Director of the National Park Service.
The National Park Service is not all about pretty places and photo ops. As Director, Chuck Sams will be responsible for an organization of more than 22,000 employees and almost 222,000 volunteers at National Park Units in every state in the country generating almost $40 billion for our national economy.
The Park Service does it all – from education to the maintenance and management of everything at our parks from wildlife to roads to water. From urban parks to rural parks the National Park Service is an American institution with deep community roots.
I have known Chuck Sams for years – and during our work together, I have seen firsthand his commitment and dedication to people and the outdoors. He has been a real leader and role model for others in the stewardship of America’s land, waters, wildlife and history. As a longtime leader of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, he has shown a real commitment to his people and the citizens of Oregon, and most recently on the Northwest Power Council, to the entire Pacific Northwest.
The National Park Service gives us the ability to visit places most Americans would not or could not otherwise reach, and they play a vital role in teaching us. I can’t think of anybody better and more qualified to do that than Chuck Sams, with his unique perspective as the first Native American to lead the Park Service. Quite frankly, this is long overdue.
Chuck will have a big job cut out for him – National Parks are facing overcrowding and a multi-billion dollar maintenance backlog, a changing climate that is increasing wildfires and drought, and unfortunately a workplace culture fraught with gender discrimination and harassment.
I’ll just close by saying, thank you to colleagues for talking to me about Chuck Sams. This is a person who represents the very best of my state. He doesn’t just listen, he hears people, he cares and he follows up. Chuck Sams, we’re sure glad you’re here today and Oregonians are proud that you’re here on behalf of our state and the country.
I hope this committee and the Senate will move forward with Chuck Sams’ nomination as soon as possible, so that the National Park Service will finally have a leader after five years without a confirmed director.