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Fran P Mainella

Fran P. Mainella

Fran P. Mainella was the 16th Director of the National Park Service of the United States and first woman to hold that position. She was appointed by President George W. Bush and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2001. She announced her retirement in July 2006 and resigned effective October 15, 2006. Mary A. Bomar, was sworn-in as the 17th Director on October 17, 2006.[1]

She was born in Connecticut and received a bachelor's degree from the University of Connecticut and a master's degree from Central Connecticut State College. Prior to her position at the National Park Service, she served as the Director of Florida's Division of Recreation and Parks for 12 years.[1]

In 1998 she received the Pugsley Medal “ for outstanding leadership in enhancing the Florida State Park system”[2] In addition Clemson University, and the Hartzog Fund named an award after her in 2003 in recognition of her service. The Mainella award is subtitled the "Outstanding Woman in Park Resources Award."[3]

She currently is a visiting scholar at Clemson University. In addition she serves on Newsweek Magazine’s Environmental Council, she sits on the advisory board for the Children and Nature Network, she helps Chair the National Recreation and Park Foundation, and is a board member for the National Society of Park Resources.

Preceded by
Robert Stanton
Director of the National Park Service
2001 – 2006
Succeeded by
Mary A. Bomar


In 2002, Clemson University presented her with its Walter T. Cox Award, which recognizes leadership in public service, public land administration, and natural and cultural resource policy. The American Recreation Coalition also presented her with its 2002 Sheldon Coleman Great Outdoors Award. On May 26, 2005, Mainella was awarded an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree from Central Connecticut State University. In 2006, she was awarded the William Penn Mott, Jr. Award for Excellence by the National Society for Park Resources. In 2007, the Clemson University Board of Trustees presented her with an award for faculty excellence. Clemson also recently named an award in her honor to encourage women to pursue conservation careers. Most recently Fran was presented the 2007 Pugsley Award for outstanding national leadership, the highest award given by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration.


During her tenure as Director, "several Western senators... expressed concern about the emphasis the Park Service put on recreation over conservation." [4] An outcry by park service employees,[5][6] environmental groups, and the public ensued in 2005 after the Park service released planned changes in management policies which would have opened more areas to recreational uses of ATVs and snowmobiles, and weakened land conservation requirements.[2][7]

The August 2005 rewrite of the parks’ Management Policies sparked nationwide controversy when it was leaked and the author identified as Department of the Interior appointee Paul Hoffman.[8]

Hoffman had previously served as an aide to Dick Cheney.[9] In June 2006 Mainella won praise from the public and environmentalists when she retreated from the proposed changes, and announced revised park service management policies.

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