Baxter State Park looking for a new director

vftt.org

Help Support vftt.org:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

peakbagger

Super Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Sep 3, 2003
Messages
8,570
Reaction score
647
Location
Gorham NH
https://bangordailynews.com/2022/02...baxter-state-park-in-search-for-new-director/

I will admit it, I am biased as Eben was the one who shut down Opening Day at the Park Headquarters. It was a nice tradition in the dark days of January.

My other bias was the decision to switch back to phone reservations for backcountry campsites. It led to very to many folks having to make multiple attempts over multiple days to get reservations.

Unfortunately the timing is bad, by the time they get new director in place, its too late to make key decisions and staffing for the upcoming season.
 
https://bangordailynews.com/2022/02...baxter-state-park-in-search-for-new-director/

I will admit it, I am biased as Eben was the one who shut down Opening Day at the Park Headquarters. It was a nice tradition in the dark days of January.

My other bias was the decision to switch back to phone reservations for backcountry campsites. It led to very to many folks having to make multiple attempts over multiple days to get reservations.

Unfortunately the timing is bad, by the time they get new director in place, its too late to make key decisions and staffing for the upcoming season.

Didn't they just switch directors a few years ago or was that another position? I remember taking my wife to Baxter for the first time a few years back and the park was really off its game - lack of a park ranger presence, filthy outhouses with no supplies, lack of campsite rule enforcement, etc.. I think I asked about it in a thread here. This feels like it might be the same set up all over again. I hope not. That year was my only bad experience in the dozen or more trips I've taken there over the past 6 years or so.
 
Didn't they just switch directors a few years ago or was that another position? I remember taking my wife to Baxter for the first time a few years back and the park was really off its game - lack of a park ranger presence, filthy outhouses with no supplies, lack of campsite rule enforcement, etc.. I think I asked about it in a thread here. This feels like it might be the same set up all over again. I hope not. That year was my only bad experience in the dozen or more trips I've taken there over the past 6 years or so.

Jensen Bissell replaced Buzz Caverly in 2005 and then was replaced by the present director in 2018
 
Yes, Eben was not on the job for long relative to the prior director's tenancies. I have speculated that he was not first choice during the last recruitment drive. The park commission had represented that they were going to do a nationwide search to the ideal candidate. There was quite long period between when Bissel left and Eben took over which probably impacted the 2018 summer season. Eben did not do a lot of interviews or PR.

Of course, it could be that the park is not competitive for salary, there is lot of money being pumped into land conservation and perhaps his new position is more lucrative?
 
I'd add the decision to allow an under six year old child to ascend above tree line, just because his parents were on a thru hike, to Eben's failures.
For decades the Park's stance was no special considerations for AT hikers, and it's been a tradition for decades to take your kid up once they've come of age. Really a huge F-you to the majority of Baxter visitors.
Let's hope the Park gets more than 6 applications this time around.
Dan is probably the front runner, even though he's a relative outsider.
 
The Park is still looking for a new director. This article brings up some interesting points and hints about the process https://observer-me.com/2022/09/13/opinion/baxter-state-park-needs-a-leader/

We are not, at this point, posting the position because we are working hard to improve some systems, such as reservations and accounting

Hopefully this leads to reopening up the backcountry reservation back to online (during two summers of Covid it was phone only leading to major delays in getting a clerk on the phone). This in combination with staffing issues really impacted the ability to make easy reservations. With respect to accounting, maybe they will come to the conclusion that there is lot to be said for a big injection of cash flow in January from "Opening day" reservations ;)

If the Director's job is so tough, it's got to be tougher to be an acting director along with chief ranger. Is the commission hoping the heavens will part and the perfect director will step out onto the summit ? :rolleyes: Are they hoping that Dan will burn out and disappear?
 
Eben's salary was $88,746, which is waaaaaaay higher than the average salary of Baxter Park employees, but seems to me to be woefully inadequate to attract a truly "visionary" candidate... or any candidate for that matter considering the demanding nature of the position.
 
The starting salary for the Director of the entire NH State Park system is about $78,000. But there is no income tax in NH, which makes it a bit more comparable on the take-home.
 
Article from todays Bangor Daily https://www.bangordailynews.com/202...e-park-is-struggling-to-find-its-next-leader/

Given the timing, my hopes of the new director bringing back opening day next year is not going to happen (I can always hope ;) ). Kind of a downer that the chief ranger has been capable of effectively running the park for 8 months but is not good enough to run it full time. With the current timing, by the time a new director is in place, it is too late to implement significant policy changes for this upcoming summer. Hopefully they will at least let the reservation system for the backcountry go back to online instead of having to call the office repeatedly to get a reservations clerk on the line.
 
Peakbagger, you should put in for the job. Now that you've retired from your regular career, this would be a perfect retirement gig for a few years!
 
Here is the job description: https://mainebhr.hire.trakstar.com/jobs/fk0x6p6?source=

When you see something like Resource Manager III in the job listing you know you are dealing with an inflexible bureaucracy that is going to have a hard time attracting a truly "visionary" leader. On the other hand, the present acting director could probably do the job just fine, but is not thought of as a "visionary".
 
Last edited:
I thought Percival Baxter already set the vision for the park.

The problem is interpreting it with stuff that Baxter did not envision. Some folks parasailed off the summit 20 years ago, they were ticketed, one contested it and the ticket was thrown out as the regulations did not specifically exclude it (the regs were subsequently changed to be far more specific). Cell phones were not envisioned, but Baxter banned electronic use, the park has accommodated them somewhat, but my guess is we are not going to be seeing cell towers built in the park to improve coverage. The significant explosion of AT through hikers was not envisioned so the park director needed to propose new rules that are consistent with Baxters's Deeds of Trust as well as his lifetime of writings where the Deeds of Trust do not comment. Same with the IAT. Same with drones. Baxter had a lot of heart burn and a lot of opposition to banning dogs from the park (he was dog lover all his life) but he realized that pets would impact wildlife in the park. He probably did not realize that dogs carry parasites that get spread from their feces that can impact wildlife. He probably was somewhat blind to like the rest of the population that people with physical disabilities might want accommodations to enjoy the backcountry. It was up to the park director to decide that outhouses would be upgraded to be accessible, and the park would allow in legitimate service dogs (a policy that has been abused by several individuals). He probably didnt envision Covid making the impact on society even though I think he lived through at least one major pandemic.

Baxter also did not envision that someone would buy up the east branch country and create a national monument whose primary attractions are in BSP. No doubt the park has been under pressure to open up trails routed directly in from the monument.
 
The problem is interpreting it with stuff that Baxter did not envision. Some folks parasailed off the summit 20 years ago, they were ticketed, one contested it and the ticket was thrown out as the regulations did not specifically exclude it (the regs were subsequently changed to be far more specific). Cell phones were not envisioned, but Baxter banned electronic use, the park has accommodated them somewhat, but my guess is we are not going to be seeing cell towers built in the park to improve coverage. The significant explosion of AT through hikers was not envisioned so the park director needed to propose new rules that are consistent with Baxters's Deeds of Trust as well as his lifetime of writings where the Deeds of Trust do not comment. Same with the IAT. Same with drones. Baxter had a lot of heart burn and a lot of opposition to banning dogs from the park (he was dog lover all his life) but he realized that pets would impact wildlife in the park. He probably did not realize that dogs carry parasites that get spread from their feces that can impact wildlife. He probably was somewhat blind to like the rest of the population that people with physical disabilities might want accommodations to enjoy the backcountry. It was up to the park director to decide that outhouses would be upgraded to be accessible, and the park would allow in legitimate service dogs (a policy that has been abused by several individuals). He probably didnt envision Covid making the impact on society even though I think he lived through at least one major pandemic.

Baxter also did not envision that someone would buy up the east branch country and create a national monument whose primary attractions are in BSP. No doubt the park has been under pressure to open up trails routed directly in from the monument.

It is definitely no small undertaking to adhere to the spirit of his intent with all the modern cultural trends and demands. I think Baxter is a special place in the Northeast and I hope future leadership can continue to walk that line and maintain the integrity of what Percival Baxter envisioned for the area....
 
I know.....I know....I have been considering getting back into Parks here in NH, but realize my point of view is too old fashioned to keep up with the modern demands of the customers, it was getting hard for me towards the end to be true to the values I felt important to keep central to the mission. I have been questioning "forever" designations for many past efforts as to if they will really hold.

I was attracted to visit Chimney Pond after years as a hiker reading descriptions in trail guides, looking at maps, photographs, reading historical accounts of explorations and climbs. When I finally made it there ready to take in the spiritual experience I yearned and anticipated for years; I was instead treated to the unavoidable situation of joining into listening to a 20 minute cell phone conversation of a woman and families day of making it to Baxter and an account of their climb, loudly audible to anyone in the mountain bowl. This was a few decades past, and cell phones were supposedly prohibited in the park, and I was pretty sure I could grab that phone from her and toss it in the lake and disappear on the trails pretty easily, but I didn't & regret.
It was certainly not the Forever Wild experience I had been planning for over a decade; but hey, that woman and family was from Maine, so I had to be satisfied that the woman and family were Maine residents who trumped the other value priorities.
 
……
It was certainly not the Forever Wild experience I had been planning for over a decade; but hey, that woman and family was from Maine, so I had to be satisfied that the woman and family were Maine residents who trumped the other value priorities.

Indeed. I volunteered there many times in summer months and am convinced old Percivel is the only one who really wants it wild.

Many guests complain about the bumpy dusty road (pave it), primitive facilities, lack of expansive trail head parking and lack of potable water from faucets.

Then there’s the pet thing. Stay retired my friend!
 
Indeed. I volunteered there many times in summer months and am convinced old Percivel is the only one who really wants it wild.

Many guests complain about the bumpy dusty road (pave it), primitive facilities, lack of expansive trail head parking and lack of potable water from faucets.

Then there’s the pet thing. Stay retired my friend!

To those guests I would suggest they vacation somewhere else. The world is not required to alter itself for every individuals wants and needs. If you don't like it go somewhere else where it fits your expectations. Problem solved.

I'd love to climb an 8000m peak. I don't have the experience, fitness, gear or money to do so. Does that mean Nepal is required to build infrastructure so I can drive in on a road, take a gondola to the top, climb the last 100 ft to the summit and then enjoy a beer in the observation area because I want to? Is the experience supposed to be altered to the masses because it is difficult/time consuming/expensive? Some things should be earned not given. There's a lot of people out there who would like to do a lot of things. Doesn't mean that the world is required to provide it to them.

I'm reminded of a customer I had years ago when I worked in retail. Every single time she came to my store (which was 2-3 times a week) she always made it a point to find me (the manager) and lodge a complaint that started with "Every time I come here...". Eventually I replied "Well then why do you shop here? Clearly we can't meet your expectations and another store may be a better choice for your needs".
 
Top