Weekly newspaper of Three Rivers, California, and Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks

Woody Smeck, superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

Sequoia-Kings Canyon superintendent completes Grand Canyon assignment

John Elliott


When you’re adept at what you do and passionate about who you work for, sometimes your superiors call on you to help address problems elsewhere. Filling in where he was needed this time, Woody Smeck, superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, returns to Ash Mountain this coming Tuesday, Feb. 19, after completing a 120-day assignment at Grand Canyon National Park.
In this most recent assignment, Smeck took over the duties for Grand Canyon’s current superintendent, Christine Lehnertz, while she was asked to take leave until the Interior Department’s Inspector General could complete its investigation of improprieties that were alleged to have occurred under Lehnertz’s predecessor Dave Uberuaga. 
Lehnertz was never accused of any wrongdoing and given the green light to return to her post.
Ironically, Smeck was furloughed for 35 days of the reassignment during the government shutdown while administrators, including superintendents, were sent home deemed as “non-essential.” Smeck, who returned home to Three Rivers on weekends and intermittently during the shutdown, helped both Sequoia-Kings Canyon and Grand Canyon national parks operate their way through the shutdown, the longest in U.S. history.
Grand Canyon National Park, Smeck said, never really shut down as the State of Arizona and other park partners stepped in from the beginning to either fund or provide vital services. After closing completely for nine days, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks received assistance from its partner Sequoia Parks Conservancy and then operated at normal January staffing once they received the okay to disburse their share of locally collected entrance-fee funds.
During Smeck’s reassignment, Christy Brigham, chief of resource management since 2015, served as acting superintendent of Sequoia-Kings Canyon.
Smeck also completed temporary reassignments to Yosemite National Park in March 2015 and October 2016 after a former superintendent there was investigated for sexual harassment and a subsequent cover-up. A retirement, that was one of the outcomes of the investigation, left
the superintendent’s post at Yosemite vacant for nearly two years. 
Smeck has served as superintendent of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks since April 2013.