Gale Retiring After 32 Years with National Park Service
by Big Island Now Staff
A veteran ranger at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is hanging up his “flat hat” for the last time today.
Jim Gale, the park’s chief of interpretation, has served with the National Park Service for 32 years.
His record of service reads almost like a list of NPS facilities: He began at Yellowstone and has served at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska, Indiana Dunes National Seashore, Blue Ridge National Park in Virginia and Grand Canyon National Park. At Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, Gale helped design two major visitor centers following the cataclysmic eruption of 1980.
“Entranced by active volcanoes and dedicated to a career in conservation, Gale moved to Hawai‘i with his wife Lora and son Forest, and spent the last 12 years at Hawai‘i Volcanoes, where his countless accomplishments continued,” said Jessica Ferracane, a park ranger and HVNP spokeswoman.
His efforts here included leading the design team for the new Kīlauea Visitor Center, collaborating with kūpuna (Hawaiian elders) on key cultural decisions, and leading a team charged with interpreting major events like the 2008 eruption at Halema‘uma‘u crater. His leadership can be seen throughout the park in colorful, wayside exhibits, and has touched untold millions of visitors around the world, Ferracane said.
“Jim is who other park rangers aspire to become,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando. “He’s extremely positive and consistently supportive and empowering to his staff. He embraces the destination of Hawai‘i, and understands how important Hawai‘i Volcanoes is to both the conservation efforts and the economy of our state.
“He has been an incredible ambassador for us,” Orlando said. “We are truly going to miss him.”
In addition to attaining a master’s degree in botany from the University of Georgia, Gale has received the highest professional recognition in his field, the Fellow Award from the National Association for Interpretation. He is also the recipient of the U.S. Forest Service Gifford Pinchot Interpreter of the Year Award for Excellence in Interpretation, and the winner of the Freeman Tilden Award for Excellence in Interpretation from the Pacific West Region.
Gale will leave Hawaii for Utah, where his wife Lora works in planning for the Bureau of Land Management.