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New superintendent named for Lava Beds and Tule Lake

Courtesy photo Chris Mengel

LAVA BEDS NATIONAL MONUMENT — Chris Mengel, currently chief ranger at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and the Curecanti National Recreation Area, will take over as superintendent of Lava Beds and Tule Lake national monuments in late August.

He replaces Larry Whalon, who retired early this year. Roseanne Worly has been serving as the acting superintendent.

“Chris brings a wealth of information to the table, and I am excited for the new direction of these special places,” Worley said of Mengel’s selection, noting he will arrive in September. Don Bowen, facility manager for Lava Beds/Tule Lake, will be the acting superintendent until Mengal arrives.

In making the announcement, acting National Park Service Regional Director Cindy Orlando noted Mengel has a long NPS career.

“As a 30-year National Park Service veteran, Chris has deep knowledge of the national park system gained through experience at a variety of parks across the agency,” Orlando said in a news release. “Chris’s ability to work collaboratively with partners and communities to protect park resources and help visitors experience these important places make him a great fit for this position.”

Mengel began his NPS career in 1988 as a seasonal ranger at Mount Rainier National Park. He has also worked as a visitor and resource protection law enforcement ranger at Grand Canyon National Park, Catoctin Mountain Park, and as chief ranger at the Whiskeytown National Recreation Area. He also served as acting superintendent at Petrified Forest National Park and as acting district ranger on the Bass Lake District of the Sierra National Forest.

“I am honored to serve as the superintendent at Lava Beds National Monument and Tule Lake National Monument,” Mengel said in a statement. “These sites have incredibly important natural resources and history to share about Japanese-American incarceration during World War II. I look forward to working with the many partners and stakeholders connected to these special places to preserve the resources and share the history.”

An eighth-generation Californian, Mengel grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and graduated from California State University-East Bay, where he received a bachelor’s degree in biology with an emphasis on ecology and natural history.

Lava Beds National Monument was established to protect and interpret volcanic and national features of scientific interest and evidence of prehistoric and historic human settlement, use and conflict. The site protects and interprets the largest known concentration of lava tube caves in the continental U.S., along with unique environments and cave-dependent species. For more information, visit the park website at www.nps.gov/labe

Tule Lake National Monument preserves, studies and interprets the history and setting of the incarceration and later segregation of Nikkei at Tule Lake during World War II. Nikkei were U.S. citizens of Japanese descent and resident immigrants of Japanese ancestry who were ineligible for U.S. citizenship. Tule Lake was one of 10 WWII Japanese-American incarceration sites and the only site that was used as a segregation center. The site interprets the objects, sites and history of the Tule Lake Segregation Center and its unique history. For more information, see www.nps.gov/tule.