(Posted May 4) Having set a new all-time record for Michigan park visitations in 2015, could things actually get better for the state’s iconic Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore?
Well, maybe the naming of a new superintendent with impeccable credentials, brand-new from the West Coast. He’s Scott Tucker, who for the past the three years has been superintendent of the Lewis & Clark National Historic Park in Astoria, Oregon.
Sleeping Bear reeled in 1,535,633 visitors last year, breaking the previous record set in 2012. Sleeping Bear drew more than double the number who made the trip to runnerup Pictured Rocks in the Upper Peninsula, and well ahead of Michigan’s other gems — Keweenaw, River Raisin and Isle Royale. Maybe that’s because Sleeping Bear won a national contest sponsored by TV’s “Good Morning America” in 2011 as “Most Beautiful Place in America.”
A 19-year veteran of the National Park Service, Tucker will arrive in June to take over the running of a 35-mile stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline, plus two islands, covering 71,000 acres in the northwest Lower Peninsula. In the Pacific Northwest, Tucker’s demesne covered seven units along the Columbia River and the Pacific Coast from Long Beach, Washington, to Cannon Beach, Oregon.
“I am pleased to welcome Scott to the Midwest Region,” said Midwest Regional Director Cam Sholly. “He has a proven record of working closely with communities and partners.”
“My family is thrilled to be moving to northern Michigan and eager to make a connection with both the park and the community,” said Tucker. “Sleeping Bear Dunes and the state of Michigan are already in our family photo album, and we look forward to making many more memories there. I am excited to help the park continue protecting the amazing resources to the next generation.”
Prior to Lewis & Clark, Tucker served for five years as the Park Manager of the President’s Parks in Washington, D.C., where he had responsibility for the 54 acres of NPS property adjacent to the White House, including the Ellipse, on which the Washington Monument stands. In that position, he navigated complex partnerships and fostered relationships with multiple federal agencies and private entities.
Prior to working at the White House, Tucker spent five years at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, where he created the Visitor Services program, planned for the grand opening in 2004, and contributed to ensuring that Native American voices were represented in all public interactions and programs.
Tucker has also worked for the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, D.C.; the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, also in D.C.; and the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park in Skagway, Alaska.
Originally from Colorado, Tucker has a bachelor’s degree in Social Science from the University of Northern Colorado, with minors in history and archaeology. Tucker will be moving with his wife, Josephine (Josey) W. Ballenger and their 8-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter. Josey Ballenger is a writer/researcher/investigator for the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the auditing arm of the U.S. Congress.