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After 92 Years, Grand Teton National Park Has its First Female Chief Ranger

Erika Jostad will take up the post immediately.

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Last week, Erika Jostad was named chief ranger at Grand Teton National Park, the first woman to serve in this leadership role in the park’s 92 year history. 

“Erika is recognized nationally as an outstanding leader within the National Park Service,” said Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Chip Jenkins in a news release. “She is a forward-thinking professional, adept at collaborative relationships, and we are fortunate to have her join our community as a steward of this place.”

She’s also not new to firsts like this. In 2016 she became the first female chief ranger at Denali National Park. Jostad has been serving as chief ranger in an interim role at Grand Teton and will transition to the job permanently later this month. One thing Jostad has already noticed in her time at Grand Teton, the country’s 5th most visited national park with 3.3 million visitors in 2020, is that this year’s spike in visitor numbers is likely directly related to an outsized spike in park emergencies. 

“More people are coming to national parks, who are maybe not traditional park visitors,” Jostad told the Jackson Hole News & Guide. “It’s wonderful that we’re reaching new audiences and developing their support, but they’re also less experienced with things like camping, hiking, backcountry travel and river travel.”

Jostad fills the position that was vacated by Michael Nash when he accepted a national law enforcement specialist position with the Washington Office of the National Park Service.