The National Park Service has promoted Greg Dudgeon to become the next superintendent of Mount Rainier National Park.
Dudgeon is the acting deputy regional director in Alaska, where he oversees the management of 15 national parks, preserves, monuments, and national historical parks.
His history in Alaska includes a controversial assault by his direct report Park Service employees against Fairbanks moose hunter Jim Wilde, and the interference with the legal activities of moose hunter John Sturgeon, who took his case to the U.S. Supreme Court, where he won 9-0 against the Park Service.
Dudgeon was the supervisor of the rookie rangers who were in the Yukon-Charley Preserve for the summer, having been relocated from out of state. Both the Wilde case and the Sturgeon case rubbed Alaskans the wrong way, due to the heavy-handed use of federal force to stop Alaskans from being able to legally hunt.
“As a 30-year National Park Service veteran, Greg has extensive experience caring for historic and cultural resources in parks and managing them in balance with natural resource conservation and public use,” said Acting NPS Regional Director Cindy Orlando in a news release. “Greg’s ability to work collaboratively with partners and communities to protect park resources make him a great fit for this position.”
That’s not how his critics describe him, however.
Dudgeon started his career with the National Park Service as a volunteer in 1983, when he was assigned to assist a whale biologist at Glacier Bay National Park. He worked his way up the ladder as a seasonal biological technician, an interpretive ranger and a commissioned ranger. Dudgeon was the chief ranger for the Bering Land National Preserve, Cape Krusenstern National Monument, Kobuk Valley National Park and Noatak National Preserve.
He was the superintendent of Hovenweep and Natural Bridges national monuments from 2001 to 2003 and later returned to Alaska as the superintendent of Sitka National Historical Park, according to the Park Service release.
He became the superintendent of Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, and Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve in 2007, where he served until he took on his current role of acting deputy regional director.
It was during this time that the two most controversial cases took place. In the Wilde case, park rangers threw the then-70-year-old Wilde, a World War II veteran, into the mud and held his wife at gunpoint. As written by writer Craig Medred, who covered the trial for the Alaska Dispatch:
“The National Park Service ended up on trial here Wednesday in what was supposed to be a case against a 70-year-old resident of Central, Alaska, who led a short, but action-packed, high-speed riverboat chase along the Yukon River in September.
“From the day that encounter in the remote wilds of Alaska first erupted into a national incident — the state and the federal government are still in court arguing over who has authority for a river through the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve long used for both Alaska and Canadian commerce — Jim Wilde, the man accused by the Park Service of fleeing and endangering rangers, has protested that all he ever wanted to do was take his boat to the safety of a riverbank before meeting with the government men who wanted to do a “safety inspection.”
“Before doing this, however, two rangers have testified Wilde said, ‘You fucking cocksuckers. I’m not stopping.’ He gunned his boat and headed upriver,” Medred wrote.
As for Wilde, he said since his boat was loaded heavily he would have been at risk for tipping if he had followed the park rangers’ instructions to halt and cut his motors in a fast-moving part of the river. Bill Satterberg was the attorney who represented Wilde.
In the trial, it became known that one of the rangers had on a previous occasion handcuffed an Alaskan for not giving his name to a federal official, and that the Park Service had overstepped by actually going into Canada several miles to detain the man in the handcuffing incident.
In the Sturgeon case, the Park Service, again under Dudgeon, ordered the moose hunter to stop his hovercraft boat, which he had used on the Nations River in the Yukon-Charley National Preserve. That case ended up at the Supreme Court, which agreed that the State of Alaska has jurisdiction over navigable waters.
Hunters and sportsmen in Fairbanks who were reached by Must Read Alaska said they were glad to see Dudgeon go, that his history of federal overreach in Alaska was less than appreciated by them. They said they felt they were treated as second-class citizens by Dudgeon, who showed little regard for the Alaska way of life, and they wish the communities around Mount Rainier well as he takes over the large national park near Seattle.