Death Valley National Park lost two highly-valued staff members recently when Charlie and Alan both retired from the NPS on April 30, 2016. A few brief words in this short blog entry cannot adequately describe how much they both were able to accomplish in behalf of Death Valley during their long tenures. Many of you knew them as being public faces of the park, seeing them in news interviews, documentaries on the park, and on videos playing in the Furnace Creek Visitor Center (FCVC). In recent times, Alan was responsible for the park’s newspaper and web site, instrumental in the redesign of the FCVC museum exhibits, and created the new interpretive panels at Salt Creek, Zabriskie Point, Badwater, Devil’s Golf Course, Mesquite Dunes, and another 15 or more that will be up over the next year. Charlie was serving as the Wilderness Coordinator and continuously working with volunteer groups which would come through the park for short time periods to help out with anything that needed to be done within the wilderness areas. When I originally met both of them back in the late 90’s, they were both helping out visitors at the FCVC and also playing slideshow programs which they had put together for the benefit of the public. Their retirements are truly a huge loss for the park after they each spent 25 years working and living there. Before that, they both also worked in other national parks. I was actually kind of hoping that the NPS would have put out some type of statement or news release expressing appreciation for the time that each of them spent in the park, but I guess that is not standard practice. Regardless, they will be greatly missed and I will certainly miss visiting with both of them during my trips to the park 2-3 times each year.
As part of Charlie’s farewell to his time in Death Valley, he and I carried out one final major exploration hike together. It was to an undocumented major canyon in the Funeral Mountains which ended up having quite beautiful scenery. That brand new hiking report has now been published and is currently listed as destination #126 on the site’s main page. You can also read the new report by clicking on the link below.