By C.V. Moore
Local politicians, community leaders and higher-ups at the Boy Scouts of America welcomed the new superintendent of New River Gorge National River to Fayette County Thursday evening at a reception in her honor.
Patricia “Trish” Kicklighter, who was hired to replace Don Striker, comes most recently from a superintendent’s post at Assateague Island National Seashore.
She has so far spent three weeks on the job.
Kicklighter says in that time, her colleagues have been “gracious and welcoming,” and that her time so far has been “fabulous.”
“I’ve spent a fair amount of time out in the park and with employees, trying to understand their jobs,” she said.
Her next move will be meeting with park partners to get to know their work and their role in the community.
Major park partners include constituents like water quality organizations, the rafting industry, climbers’ groups and the Boy Scouts — anyone with a vested interest in how the lands within the park are used.
Kicklighter’s emphasis on partnerships is right in line with that of Dave Arnold of Adventures on the Gorge, where the reception was held.
He says his ideal park superintendent is “somebody that realizes that their role is to work with communities and form partnerships.”
He and several others organized the informal reception to welcome Kicklighter, believing it would be “a smart thing to do.”
Arnold has worked with every superintendent in the park’s history and realizes the power of their role in charting a direction for the agency.
“They have a huge amount of latitude in how they direct park personnel and policy. ... They certainly have the power to put the boat in a certain direction, and we’re pretty excited,” he said.
Kicklighter is a native of the Missouri Ozarks.
The event was sponsored by ACE Whitewater, Adventures on the Gorge, Boy Scouts of America, River Expeditions, Steptoe & Johnson, Wild Rock and Winterplace Ski Resort.
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