GLEN JEAN, WV (WOAY) – New River Gorge National River Superintendent Lizzie Watts has announced that Bryan Wender recently joined the staff as the new Chief of Natural Resource Management for the three national parks of southern West Virginia, which includes New River Gorge National River, Bluestone National Scenic River, and Gauley River National Recreation Area.
Wender transferred from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in southwest Oregon, where, for the past 7 years, he has led programs for rare plant conservation, habitat restoration, and invasive plant management, with an emphasis on regional partnerships. Wender has more than 18 years of experience in managing natural resources for the National Park Service, BLM, and other agencies.
“We are thrilled to have someone with Bryan’s diverse resource management background coming to the New River Gorge region,” said Watts. “His botanical expertise and his experience working with several different land management agencies will expand our abilities to form new networks and partnerships to protect our many resources in these three parks. Additionally, his love and knowledge of river parks, particularly his experience at Big South Fork National River, will be a great benefit to us as we preserve our parks.”
Wender previously worked for Mesa Verde National Park, the Virginia Natural Heritage Program, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, and the US Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station. He started his career as a seasonal biological science technician at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.
“I’m excited to be returning to the Appalachians and to have the opportunity to be a steward of the spectacular river systems, ecological communities, and endangered species’ habitat located in these parks,” said Wender. “I look forward to working with the park’s committed staff and partners, building new relationships, and finding new opportunities to collaborate on natural resource issues in the region.”
Wender grew up in Woodstock, Virginia. He received a bachelor’s degree in forestry from the University of Kentucky and a master’s of science in forestry from Virginia Tech. He and his wife, Pam, are avid cyclists, travelers, and gardeners, and they look forward to exploring the mountains, rivers, and trails of West Virginia. Wender takes the place of Mark Graham, who transferred to Bryce Canyon National Park in 2016.