Pictured Rocks superintendent leaving

MUNISING – Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Superintendent Jim Northup will leave his post in early March to become the new superintendent at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, returning to the park he first worked at as a seasonal employee in 1979.

Northup, who came to Pictured Rocks as superintendent in 2005 from Great Smoky Mountains National Park, said he has been selectively looking for another opportunity with the park service for a while.

“When I leave it will be just shy of eight years, which is the longest I’ve ever stayed at any park,” Northup said. “I’ve been very choosy because we’ve just loved it here.”

Northup and his wife, Phyllis -an artist and art teacher who has encouraged others to get out and enjoy Pictured Rocks- have been popular residents in the community.

“It has been my great privilege to serve as the superintendent of Pictured Rocks,” Northup said. “This is a very special place. My wife and I have loved it here and it will be very hard to leave. But this is an outstanding professional opportunity.

Northup thanked park staff and all of the partners who have made his tenure such a wonderful experience. An acting superintendent for Pictured Rocks will be named, likely before Northup leaves March 8. A search for a permanent replacement will likely take several months.

Northup said the move to Virginia will be a promotion for him, with a larger park operation to supervise. He will begin shopping for a new home once he arrives, with Phyllis likely staying in Alger County for a few months of transition, while the couple’s Munising Township home is sold.

At Shenandoah National Park, Northup will succeed Martha Bogle, who retired last month after 33 years with the National Park Service. In this capacity, Northup will also oversee operation of nearby Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park. He will lead a staff of more than 200 employees and manage a base budget of more than $13 million at the two parks.

During his Pictured Rocks tenure, Northup focused on a variety of issues including improving community relations, obtaining Congressional designation of the Beaver Basin Wilderness and working with Alger County on the design and reconstruction of Alger County Highway 58.

Northup started the park’s Community Partner Program, the Adopt-a-Trail/Adopt-a-Campsite Program, the Discover Your Lakeshore Program and several initiatives with the park’s gateway communities of Munising and Grand Marais. Northup also played a key role in the establishment of the National Parks of Lake Superior Foundation, the non-profit fundraising partner of the five NPS units on Lake Superior.

Other achievements have included completing other actions called for in the park’s 2004 General Management Plan, working with Pictured Rocks Cruises to establish a formal concession contract for that important visitor service, expanding the park’s public interpretive programs and improving working conditions for employees.

Shenandoah National Park encompasses over 197,000 acres of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, including the 105-mile Skyline Drive; over 500 miles of trails; 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail, several concession operated lodges and restaurants and 79,579 acres of wilderness.

Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park commemorates a nationally significant Civil War landscape and antebellum plantation in the Shenandoah Valley and is managed in partnership with several other organizations.

John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. His email address is jpepin@miningjournal.net