August 28, 2020
While our eyes are focused on the Woodward fire at Point Reyes National Seashore this week, our nation is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment giving women the right and duty to vote. One role of national parks is to share the stories of the people of the United States of America and the places they love and protect.
Women Who Preserve the Parks
The National Park Service turned 104 this week, predating the 19th amendment by four years. The role of women in the National Park Service has grown over the last century. While today just 37% of NPS staff are women and some of their obstacles have made headlines over the last several years, women have risen to the highest levels of the organization. Women serve as Superintendent, Chief of Interpretation, and Chief Ranger at Point Reyes National Seashore. Women work as biologists, law enforcement rangers, historic preservation carpenters, interpreters, trails crew members, and every other part of the work force at this and other parks across the country.
I'm so pleased to share a perspective from Clare Miller Watsky, daughter of Congressman Clement "Clem" Miller, whose tireless work was foundational in the establishment of Point Reyes National Seashore. Equally important and sometimes less told, is the story of Clare's mother, Katy Miller Johnson, who worked the halls of Congress to raise the funds to complete the purchase of land for the Park after her husband tragically died in a plane accident shortly after President Kennedy signed the legislation establishing Point Reyes National Seashore. Thank you Clare for your reflection on your mother and some of the other incredible women responsible for preserving the natural beauty we enjoy today in the Bay Area.
Clare is a good friend to Point Reyes National Seashore. She spends time at the family cabin in Inverness and I've cherished her visits to our summer camp over the years where we've talked about her parents' vision of a park for all. As the new co-chair of our Program Committee, I look forward to working with Clare to ensure that the girls in our youth programs have every opportunity to explore the Park while also learning about the many the career paths a life devoted to conservation offer. This is just one part of our commitment to ensuring equal access to Point Reyes National Seashore.