By Cary Rosenbaum of the CUJ
How many times can you link the word “history” with Charles F. “Chuck” Sams III?
First, the nomination for National Park Service
Director as the first Native American candidate. Then, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approval. And now, the Senate vote to confirm his role.
He’s in — by unanimous confirmation — and will be the 19th Director in history.
Sams will become the first Native American ever to lead the agency in its 105-year existence after being nominated in August by President Biden.
“I am deeply honored to have been confirmed by the United States Senate and in being President Biden’s appointee as the 19th Director of the National Park Service,” Sams told the CUJ on Nov. 19. “I am also very deeply appreciative of the support, guidance and counsel of my Tribal elders and friends throughout my professional career. I look forward to carrying on the responsibility of being a good steward of our natural resources and in joining the dedicated and dynamic staff of the National Park Service.”
The NPS hasn’t had a confirmed Director since the Obama Administration. The agency manages 423 sites, including 63 national parks, that see hundreds of millions of annual visits across all 50 states.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said Sams is the right nominee to lead the NPS in a statement following the confirmation.
“Chuck is a role model in the stewardship of American land and waters, wildlife and history,” he said. “And now thanks to the Senate’s unanimous decision to confirm his nomination, Congress and park-goers will have someone steady and experienced to rely on in the years ahead.”
Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-WV), who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that oversees the Park Service, said Sams will bring an important perspective to the NPS.
“I look forward to working with him to ensure our iconic national parks are protected for generations to come,” he said.
As the agency’s first Senate-confirmed NPS Director in five years, Sams will oversee more than 131,000 square miles of parks, monuments, battlefields and other landmarks, as well as nearly 20,000 employees who are permanent, temporary or seasonal.
CTUIR Board of Trustees Chair Kat Brigham praised Sams for his history-making efforts.
“I’m very proud, and I think it’s very exciting that we have a tribal member who’s first in history to be in charge of our National Park Service,” Brigham told the Associated Press following the confirmation. “He knows how important our land is. He knows that we need to protect our land, not only for today, but for our children’s children.”