Anzelmo to retire on July 1
Efforts to upgrade Colorado National Monument to a national park will go forward without Superintendent Joan Anzelmo, who will retire July 1.
Anzelmo announced her retirement Wednesday, marking the end of a 35-year career in the National Park Service that began in Washington, D.C., and included stints at Yellowstone and Grand Teton before her final assignment to Colorado National Monument.
Anzelmo supervised the monument’s centennial celebrations, beginning with a fireworks display on New Year’s Eve and an observance on May 21 that drew 600 people to the visitor center on the west end of the monument.
Having accomplished that, “I felt like it was a good time to pass the flat hat along,” Anzelmo said. “It seemed appropriate to turn the page on the next chapter.”
Anzelmo took over the monument in May 2007 and most recently presided over the beginning of discussions to make the 20,000-acre monument more visible to tourists as a national park.
“Our role is that of a fact-checker” and not to state an opinion as to whether the monument should get a more recognizable monicker, Anzelmo said.
“If it’s meant to be, I’m sure it will happen in good time,” she said.
Anzelmo’s departure should have little effect on the park-designation study, said Jack Connolly, president of the Colorado National Monument Association. “I hope the next person will be as conscientious as Joan with issues and facts,” Connolly said. “She is a dedicated public servant, and I wish her well in her retirement.”
A committee appointed by U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., and U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., is looking at whether to seek park status.
Even while working with supporters of park status this year, Anzelmo found herself at odds with many of them as she fended off an effort to conduct a professional bicycle race across Rim Rock Road.
Race backers appealed Anzelmo’s denial to her superiors, who upheld her denial, saying it could set a precedent for other National Park Service units.
Over her tenure with the Park Service, Anzelmo dealt with a variety of tasks, including acting as the agency’s spokeswoman during the 1988 fires in Yellowstone National Park. She was recognized as an expert in crisis communications and was assigned last year to the Park Service’s unified area command for the British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Anzelmo coordinated presidential visits for every president who served during her tenure in the Park Service.
She said she had been considering retirement for some time and that her daughter, Jenny, who recently graduated from college, is working in the public affairs office in Grand Teton National Park.
An interim director will be appointed while the Park Service considers a permanent appointment.