Joan Anzelmo has worked in some of the most spectacular landscapes on Earth: Yellowstone National Park, Grand Teton National Park and lately, Colorado National Monument.
When she retires July 1, she can look with pride on her involvement in some exciting and important episodes during her 35 years with the National Park Service.
There was her task as lead spokeswoman for the Park Service during the massive Yellowstone forest fires of 1988. She’s been involved in coordinating park visits for every president who served during her years working for the Park Service. She also helped the agency craft a new policy to authorize the release of victims’ names in search and rescue operations.
Most recently in this community, she has overseen the effort to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Colorado National Monument, which culminated with the large ceremony May 21.
She has also provided information to local residents and politicians exploring the possibility of changing the name of the national monument and making it a national park.
Some of the issues she’s dealt with have been controversial. Consider her refusal to grant a permit for one leg of a professional bicycle race over the monument. The Daily Sentinel disagreed strongly with that decision. But we understand why Anzelmo felt she had to reach that conclusion.
That issue aside, we greatly respect Anzelmo and what she has done for the monument during her tenure here.
Michelle Wheatley, who has handled interpretation, education and coordinated much of the centennial events, will serve as acting superintendent of the monument. We hope when a permanent replacement for Anzelmo is selected, that person will be equally competent and hard-working. And we hope he or she will continue to work with this community on issues from a potential change in monument status to events proposed to be held there.