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New superintendent for the Upper Delaware

Kristina Heister
TRR photo by David Hulse

By David Hulse
June 11, 2014

NARROWSBURG, NY — Kristina Heister, the newly appointed National Park Service (NPS) superintendent for the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, was introduced at the June 5 meeting of the Upper Delaware Council (UDC).

Sandra Schultz served as interim superintendent from 2001 to 2002, but Heister is the first woman and only the sixth person named as permanent superintendent in the park’s 35-year history. Her predecessors include: John Hutzky, 1980-1995; Calvin Hite, 1995-2001; David Forney, 2002-2008, Vidal Martinez, 2008-2009; and Sean McGuinness 2010-2014.

Heister said she was attending Thursday’s meeting unofficially following the May 28 announcement of her appointment.

The Bellefonte, PA native is a Penn State graduate and 22-year NPS veteran whose academic discipline is biology.

Following postings around the country, she returned to serve as chief of natural resources at Valley Forge National Historical Park in 2006, and for the past two years Northeast regional chief of natural resources in Philadelphia.

“Now, I am a very shiny, new superintendent… I have no preconceptions about the job. Whatever philosophical differences we may have, we have a common goal in protecting the Upper Delaware River,” she said.

Very pleased to be away from the city, “I’d rather be gutting a deer,” she said.

She said she and her husband are “desperately looking for a place to live.” He is an avid fly fisherman and has been house hunting since she won the appointment, she said

Given a recent series of retiring and relocating superintendents, Heister was asked about her long-term plans.

“I hope to purchase a home and become a member of the community. [Her husband] intends to never leave and I can relate to that… This is the kind of place where people come to retire,” she said.

Heister comes with good grades from her boss. “As the chief of natural resources for the Northeast region, Kris has repeatedly demonstrated outstanding leadership in establishing successful partnerships as a way of doing business that is integral to success.

“Her strong natural resource and interpretive background experience building coalitions and innovative leadership approach are particularly relevant to the Upper Delaware,” wrote Northeast Regional Director Mike Caldwell.

Heister will begin work here in mid-

July, with the departure of Malcom Wilbur, who has served as interim superintendent.

In other business, Carla Hahn of NPS reported that 2013 visitation statistics showed a 10.6% decline. Visitation at NPS units in New York was down 13% and 3.2% nationally from 2012.