It’s clear just from a few moments of talking with her that Margaret Goodro loves the land — and the water.
And with 1.5 million acres of both to supervise as the new superintendent of Lake Mead National Recreation Area that’s a good thing.
Goodro was selected in March to replace Lizette Richardson, who retired, and started in her new position in May.
“I love Lake Mead and I love recreation,” she said, noting that recreation is one of the strongest industries in the country.
Coming to Lake Mead, which was the nation’s first national recreation area and is its largest, seemed fitting, she added. The park, which has urban and remote areas, offers a multitude of recreation opportunities.
It also is somewhat of a homecoming for Goodro, who worked as a district ranger at the park earlier in her career.
“Boulder City continues to get better.”
She said she especially likes the arched entry to the historic downtown area and is glad to see the River Mountain Loop Trail completed.
Goodro was an avid recreationalist before injuring her back, enjoying activities such as wakeboarding, cross-country skiing, snowboarding and rock climbing. She continues to hike, paddleboard and camp along with other activities in moderation, but said she gets as much enjoyment watching others recreate as she does partaking in them herself.
Because of this, she considers visitors’ impressions and needs when making decisions about the park.
Goodro said one of her biggest challenges coming to Lake Mead will be dealing with the low water level.
“I want to be part of the solution.”
She said she will focus on making sure the infrastructure such as roads, restrooms and visitor center are prepared for what will happen in the park in the next 20-50 years.
“They need to be the best they can be so we can serve our visitors and have a safe place to work,” she said, adding that more restrooms and trash cans are needed near the beach areas.
She also wants to see better signage in the park so that visitors know where they are and how to reach the water as the level falls. This will also aid park rangers, cutting down response time when they need to assist or rescue someone.
Additionally, she wants to see new signs near park entrance stations so visitors with passes or those who need to pay fees know to slow down and what lanes to get into.
“That will help speed things up for local visitors,” she added.
Improving people’s experiences as they visit is a priority for Goodro.
“I would like to take better care of visitors and make sure they are having the best experience possible,” she said.
That fits in with the Department of Interior’s initiative to improve enjoyment on its lands.
One of her ideas to accomplish this is a program called “informal interpretation,” which is to have rangers roving throughout the park interacting with visitors, telling them about sights to see and answering questions “so people have a better experience.”
Goodro said it’s a very traditional Park Service model but it’s an effective one.
She also hopes to boost programs for youths and get more students to visit and participate in “experiential learning opportunities.”
“As a kid, that’s how I learned and it brought me into the world of recreation management,” she said.
In addition to looking out for the visitors and park itself, Goodro said one of her goals is to “take better care of the staff and hear their suggestions and ideas.”
“One of the biggest challenges in coming here, as you move up the ranks, is to get people to share their ideas with me. Hearing from staff on the ground is a big challenge.”
Goodro, however, has already developed a system to allow the park’s staff of more than 250 to send her information directly about how to improve the visitor experience, safety, efficiency or infrastructure.
Because they are the ones out in the field, they have firsthand knowledge about what can be done to improve the experience of being at the park, she said.
“So far, it’s worked out really well. I’ve gotten tons of great ideas.”
Before taking over at Lake Mead, Goodro was the superintendent of Biscayne National Park in Florida. She has been working as a park ranger in county, state and federal parks for 26 years, including stints in Alaska, California and Oregon.
She started with the park service as a firefighting ranger and rescuing people off steep mountains.
Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.