The keynote speaker was Jon Jarvis. Jarvis served as Director of the National Park Service during the Obama administration (2009-2017). Following his retirement from the NPS in 2017, Jarvis was appointed as the executive director of UC Berkeley’s Institute for Parks, People, and Biodiversity.
In this conversation with Jarvis, the career Park Service civil servant reflects on his passion to tell the untold stories. Under Interior Secretaries Ken Salazar and Sally Jewel, Jarvis was given reign to search out these fascinating stories of the American experience — Colonel Charles Young is a prime example. jon jarvis
Jarvis, who like Ranger Shelton Johnson, appeared in the Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan PBS documentary The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. He recalled a conversation with Burns that set the tone for the national park history that was featured. jon jarvis
“One of my favorite discussions I ever had with Ken Burns, I asked him: When did you first discover that the national parks are actually a story about people?” Jarvis recalled. “They had no idea that each of these parks was the story about the life work of one or two people who worked really, really hard to preserve.” jon jarvis
Credit Colonel Young with being the genesis of preservation in Sequoia National Park, Jarvis said.
Jarvis concluded by explaining that there has always been a Berkeley connection to the national parks and especially in later years to Sequoia National Park. David Graber, a Three Rivers resident and Berkeley alum, was headquartered at Ash Mountain and served for many years as Chief Scientist for the Pacific West Region before his retirement. jon jarvis
For more from Jarvis, see the book The Future of Conservation in America: A Chart for Rough Water, co-authored with Gary E. Machlis (2018).