An 18-year veteran of the National Park Service was named Thursday to be the next superintendent of Olympic National Park.
Sarah Creachbaum, 54, will replace Karen Gustin, who retired in March.
Creachbaum currently is superintendent of Haleakala National Park in Hawaii. She has been at the park on the island of Maui since 2009. Before that, she was superintendent at War in the Pacific National Historical Park on the island of Guam and American Memorial Park on the island of Saipan.
“I am absolutely thrilled to work at Olympic; it has always been a dream,” Creachbaum said by email. “I look forward to working with the park staff and the community to protect the outstanding resources of the park.”
She will begin her new duties this fall when she moves to the Olympic Peninsula with her husband Bob and their border collie Jimmy, according to the National Park Service.
“Sarah is a proven leader and team builder, with strong wilderness management expertise,” Pacific West Regional Director Chris Lehnertz said. “She is known for her creativity and inclusive management style. Sarah’s ability to listen and collaborate within cultures and communities and then to create a shared vision, will be an asset to Olympic National Park.”
Creachbaum will leave a park that attracts about 1 million visitors a year, compared to the 3 million people who visit Olympic annually. The Hawaiian park has varied habitats, from the 10,023-foot namesake volcano to the coastal Kipahulu area, while Olympic has its coastal beaches, rain forests and alpine meadows.
“The diversity of the landscapes within the park is one of the of the things that makes Olympic so special to me,” Creachbaum said. “Diversity is a good thing in both ecosystems and people. I’m interested in gaining a thorough understanding of the issues that face the park. My initial message to anyone interested in the park’s management would be – let’s talk!”
She also is OK with the idea of trading palm trees for pine trees.
“Many career park service employees have a list of those parks that really speak to them – their favorites,” she said. “Olympic has long been at the top of my list. It is diverse beautiful landscape with an engaged and interested community. I am happy that I’ll still be on the Pacific Ocean – although the water will be a little colder.”
Creachbaum began her career in 1990 as a recreation and wilderness manager for the Shoshone National Forest in Cody, Wyo. Her Park Service career includes stops at Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Saguaro national parks. Creachbaum currently is co-chair of the National Park Service Wilderness Leadership Council.
She received a master’s degree in landscape architecture and environmental planning from Utah State University in 1994. She also was the 2004 National Park Service Bevinetto Fellow, and served in Washington, D.C., as a staff member for the Senate subcommittee on national parks.jeff.mayor@ thenewstribune.com 253-597-8640 blog.thenewstribune.com/adventure