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Charles F. Sams III Sworn in as National Park Service Director

Charles F. “Chuck” Sams III was ceremonially sworn in as Director of the National Park Service (NPS) by Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland today, as per a release of the Department of the Interior.

Chuck is the first tribal citizen to lead the agency, which has been without a senate-confirmed leader for nearly five years. 

“Everyone should have access to the outdoors no matter where they live, how much money they have, or what their background is. Chuck Sams understands the importance of connecting people to nature, and I am thrilled to work with him as the Interior Department works to make our national park system accessible to all Americans,” said Secretary Haaland. “Under his leadership, the National Park Service will continue to protect our public lands for generations to come and make critical investments in the vast infrastructure that sustains our public lands and national parks.”

“I am honored to serve as director of the National Park Service and thank President Biden and Secretary Haaland for entrusting in me the care of one of America’s greatest gifts: our National Park System. I am also incredibly proud to work with the dedicated employees of the National Park Service. I have no doubt that together, we’ll be able to expand access to the outdoors, protect America’s public lands, and upgrade our nation’s infrastructure system through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” said Director Sams.

Chuck will help implement the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

In addition to historic funding for climate resiliency initiatives and legacy pollution clean-up, the infrastructure law provides a five-year reauthorization of the Federal Lands Transportation Program, which will help invest in repairing and upgrading NPS roads, bridges, trails, and transit systems.

Moreover, the law supports projects that will help fund bridge replacements and resiliency, repair ferry boats and terminal facilities, and maintain wildlife crossings that keep people and surrounding wildlife safe.

The new NPS director has worked in state and tribal governments and the non-profit natural resource and conservation management fields for more than 25 years. He most recently served as a council member to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, appointed by Oregon Governor Kate Brown.

He has held various roles with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, most recently as their executive director.

Sams also served as the Indian Country Conservancy’s President/Chief Executive Officer and Umatilla Tribal Community Foundation’s Executive Director. Additionally, he fulfilled the roles of National Director of the Tribal & Native Lands Program for the Trust for Public Land, Executive Director for the Columbia Slough Watershed Council, Executive Director for the Community Energy Project, and President/Chief Executive Officer for the Earth Conservation Corps.

Chuck holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Concordia University-Portland and a Master of Legal Studies in Indigenous peoples law from the University of Oklahoma. He is a veteran of the U.S. Navy. Chuck is an enrolled member, Cayuse and Walla Walla, of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, where he lives with his wife and their four children.

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February 22, 2024 7:23 pm

Did you know that Chuck Sams III brings a treasure trove of experience to his new role as the National Park Service Director, including his previous work as a U.S. Army officer and as a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation? His exceptional perspective and commitment to inclusivity are sure to make a splendid impact on the accessibility and preservation of our national parks.


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