Smokies chief ranger selected to lead Public Safety and Resource Protection

Clayton Jordan

Clayton Jordan

After a comprehensive search and thorough vetting process, Great Smoky Mountains National Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson and Deputy Superintendent Kevin FitzGerald are pleased to announce the selection of Clayton Jordan as the new Chief Ranger, Resource and Visitor Protection Division.

Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson said that “Clay, through his many years of National Park Service experience, has obtained an extensive variety of skills in managing complex and widely varied visitor and resource protection programs. His background is excellently matched for formulating and implementing the Park’s rangering policies and programs and will aid in his ability to work successively with state and local law enforcement agencies and emergency services surrounding the Park.”

With more than 9 million visitors annually to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Chief Ranger oversees a multifaceted law enforcement and visitor protection operation that spans the half-million acre reserve. The duties of the Division of Resource and Visitor Protection are as varied and diverse as the Park itself given the vast expanse of rugged and harsh mountainous terrain, hundreds of miles of roadway and trails, and the irreplaceable cultural and natural resources.

The division’s employees are primarily engaged in enforcement of Federal and state laws and regulations against criminal threats to Park resources and visitors; a large public safety component involving search and rescue (SAR) and emergency medical services (EMS); management of front country campgrounds and backcountry use; wildland fire suppression; and response to roadway accidents. In 2009, rangers responded to almost 4,000 law enforcement-related traffic incidents, 50 DUIs, 295 motor vehicle accidents, 129 SARs, 263EMS and 270-plus resource violations, everything from taking rocks from streams and disturbing wildlife to defacing historic buildings and collecting artifacts.

In addition, under the supervision of the Chief Ranger, the Volunteer in Parks program is administered with over 2,400 volunteers involved in helping the Park.

“I am honored and excited for the opportunity to join the team at the Smokies,” said newly appointed Chief Ranger Jordan. “The Park has an incredible staff with a great reputation for accomplishing so much every year to protect this world-class Park and to provide a safe, enjoyable experience for the millions of visitors who come to experience it,” he continued.

Jordan comes to this position most recently from Gulf Islands National Seashore, Fla.-Miss., where he has served as the Chief Ranger since November of 2006. He also played a vital role in the Unified Command of the Mississippi Canyon Oil Spill Response, along the Mississippi-Alabama-Florida coast. He was the U.S. Department of Interior’s second-in-command to the joint federal, state and private effort, as well as being a point person to NPS Director Jon Jarvis during this effort. Jordan also served as the NPS Acting Regional Chief Ranger for the 13-state Northeast Region in Philadelphia, Pa., in 2005.

Jordan had several other supervisory park ranger field assignments during his career. While stationed at Shenandoah National Park, Va., both as a district ranger and later promoted to Deputy Chief Ranger, he was awarded the Meritorious Police Duty Citation by the Police Association of Washington, D.C., for action taken during a barricaded gunman incident. Others included stints at Fire Island National Seashore, N.Y.; Olympic and Mt. Rainier National Parks, Wash.; and Cape Cod National Seashore, Mass.

Jordan is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts with a B.S. in Outdoor Recreation and Park Administration. Clay, and his wife, Ann, have two children: Skylar, 13, and Hannah, 10.

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