ACADIA NAT’L PARK — Thérèse Picard, deputy chief ranger at Acadia for the past three years and acting chief ranger since late September, has been named chief ranger.
“She has done an excellent job as deputy chief ranger, and her leadership, experience and strong collaboration skills will carry forward into her new role,” Superintendent Kevin Schneider said in announcing her selection.
As chief ranger, Picard will lead the park’s law enforcement rangers and oversee the rangers who assist with entrance passes. She also will be responsible for fire management, emergency medical services, search and rescue personnel and lifeguards.
After volunteering with Mount Desert Search and Rescue for several years, Picard began her career in law enforcement as a seasonal ranger in Acadia in 2003. In 2008, she transferred to Zion National Park in Utah, where she served as a supervisory district ranger and then as the park’s law enforcement specialist.
She and fellow Zion ranger Craig Thexton received the Department of the Interior’s Valor Award for “demonstrating unusual courage involving a high degree of personal risk in the face of danger.” The award was given for their 2004 rescue of a climber who fell while rappelling down a cliff. He was found hanging upside down 80 feet above the ground and had almost slipped out of his climbing harness.
“That was probably the rescue that has stuck with me the most in terms of every decision I make,” Picard said Tuesday.
Asked why she returned to Acadia as deputy chief ranger in 2017, she said, “It was a little bit of everything. I was the law enforcement specialist and canyon district ranger at Zion, which equated to a deputy chief ranger position.
“So, the primary reason was to move home. I still had a house here, and my parents had moved here in 2004. So, it was largely an opportunity to be closer to family, particularly my parents, and to be able to spend some time with them.”
Picard’s sister, Claire, is a teacher at Mount Desert Island High School.
As for why she applied for the job as chief ranger, she said, “I have a deep commitment to this park and this island, and I look forward to working with the surrounding communities to protect this special place and keep visitors safe.”
She said any changes she makes as chief ranger will mostly be behind the scenes.
“As a group, we’ve identified a lot of internal things that we want to work on,” she said. “So, for the first year, my focus is to look at the ideas and concerns the staff has put forward and figure out what we can accomplish and what we can’t.
“In terms of what the public is going to see, we’re still going to be out there patrolling and interacting with the public and still doing SAR (search and rescue) and EMS. The public isn’t going to see much of a change.”
Picard succeeds Stuart West, who left Acadia in late September to become superintendent of three small National Park Service units in the Southwest.