By JB Clark
TUPELO – Mary Risser, a 32-year veteran of the National Park Service, has been named the new superintendent of the Natchez Trace Parkway.
She has served as the superintendent of Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado and Utah for the last night years.
“I’m looking forward to being in a community again,” she said. “I’m currently 90 miles from the county seat and 70 miles from a stop sign.”
She said working at a park that exists in two states has taught her how to work with multiple governing bodies at once, a skill she will need while managing the 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway that goes from Natchez to Nashville and through Alabama.
“I’m excited to learn about the ecology of the parkway,” she said. “Going from Natchez to Nashville, it goes through so many types of vegetation so it seems like it will be a lot more diverse than I was expecting.”
She said she is excited to work with the parkway’s staff, “The more I find out about the parkway the more excited I am,” she said. “It seems like a well-oiled machine.”
Her career with the National Park Service has taken her to Big Bend National Park, Grant Teton National Park, Yosemite National Park, Joshua Tree National Park and Golden Spike National Historic Site. She began her career as a secretary in the National Capital Region and has done everything from concessions management to expanded research opportunities for natural and cultural resources.
Risser’s new post was announced Thursday morning by Southeast Regional Director Stan Austin. She will begin her new duties in mid-December, replacing Acting Superintendent Dale Wilkerson.