Bryce, UT – After almost 39 years of federal service, Linda Mazzu, Superintendent at Bryce Canyon National Park, will retire on April 24th. Mazzu has been the superintendent at the park since March 10, 2017.
Her love for public lands was first kindled in 1981 while completing a bachelor’s degree in Recreation and Park Management at Penn State University. The degree included an internship requirement, and a photo of giant sequoias in a magazine led her to choose Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. That summer her parents drove her across the country from their home in northwest Pennsylvania to an experience of the Sierra that would change her life.
“I fell in love with the adventure of studying, protecting, and restoring natural resources through time spent in sequoia groves, with black bears and in alpine landscapes. I started my career the following summer with one goal in mind – to be paid to hike”. Between and along hikes, she later earned a master’s degree in Natural Resources Management from Humboldt State University. Her thesis focused on the park’s alpine meadows.
From Sequoia and Kings Canyon, opportunities would take her both across the country and across public lands agencies. In Washington D.C. her love of hiking trails found purpose with the NPS Rivers and Trails Conservation Assistance program. In Grand Canyon National Park her work focused on air and water quality and aircraft overflights. In southern Oregon the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and her love of plants would come together. There she worked as a botanist to survey and protect hundreds of rare plant populations. Her botanical work then shifted from rare to invasive plants. As an ecologist with U.S. Forest Service she helped to write an Invasive Plants Plan for the Pacific Northwest region. She then joined the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho, bringing together those years of invasive plant experience with wildland fire planning for the BLM. Ultimately, it was Yellowstone National Park that would welcome her back to the NPS. Her work as an environmental quality specialist there helped to re-engineer the park’s compliance program.
Her last two jobs are where she most hopes her legacy will last. First as Chief of Resources Management and Science in Yosemite, and now as Superintendent at Bryce Canyon National Park. “There’s nothing better than being able to help others along their career paths. It’s the only way to ensure our parks are cared for and protected for future generations. Long ago and along the way someone took a chance on me. It’s been my greatest honor to pay it forward to others just getting started. To go from unpaid intern to Superintendent at Bryce Canyon has been a career of dreams and I hope I have inspired others to what is possible.”
As she prepares to retire, Linda reflects on the experiences she gained along the way, and hopes they’ve set Bryce Canyon on a good path. “From the top of the Sierra Nevada to the top of the Grand Staircase, it has been an amazing journey. One that I hope has led to a stronger future for a park I love.”
Along with future adventures and supporting her family, she looks forward to new ways of serving the National Park Service and public lands. She and her husband Erik, dog Ruby, and Sparky the Fire Cat will reside in Boise, ID.
Jim Ireland, Superintendent at Timpanogos Cave National Monument and Utah State Coordinator for the NPS, has been selected to serve a 120-day detail as Bryce Canyon’s interim Superintendent. The park looks forward to welcoming him at the end of April.
About the National Park Service: More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 424 national park units and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Visit us at www.nps.gov, on Facebook www.facebook.com/nationalparkservice, Twitter www.twitter.com/natparkservice, and YouTube www.youtube.com/nationalparkservice.