Thursday, July 18, 2019 | 2 a.m.
Did you know that Las Vegas is right next door to the largest national recreation area in America? Clocking in at 1.5 million acres with 8 million visitors annually, managing Lake Mead National Recreation Area is no small job. So when the National Park Service (NPS) announced the selection of a new superintendent for Lake Mead, Margaret L. Goodro, we jumped at the chance to find out more.
During the course of her 26-year career, Goodro has worked in county, state and national parks, as well as for the Bureau of Land Management. She’s seen all terrain, from forest to tropics to desert. In fact, this will be her second time working at Lake Mead; she spent three years as a district ranger about 15 years ago. Most importantly, Goodro says that she already loves Lake Mead.Here’s what the Washington State native had to say about her new role.
You’re still settling in, but do you have any plans or ideas for the direction of Lake Mead?
My main emphasis areas would be trying to provide the best visitor services we can. Then also working to take good care of the staff and make sure they’re safe, well-trained and have opportunities to advance their careers. The next one is infrastructure. I’m big on improving infrastructure so that our visitors enjoy their time here at the park. And then also to take care of our investments [bathrooms, launch ramps, roads, signs, etc.] and making sure that we are being wise in our investments and taking good care of our existing infrastructure to maximize its effectiveness. Some of the big things right off the bat are improving our signs and several repaving projects for the roads.
Do you have plans for any new programming or construction?
We’d like to see our interpretive Rangers out roving and talking to folks in the campgrounds and on the beaches. We’re going to try to see if we can provide more of that for our visitors. For construction, we’re looking at a new road to Willow Beach that’s going to be safer and easier to travel. Willow Beach is a heavily used area. It’s absolutely gorgeous and a lot of fun. We’ve been wanting this for a long time.
What appeals to you about working for the parks?
I love recreation. I love watching people recreate. I love being here looking out on the lake and seeing all the boats. I literally wave at them, smile and give a thumbs-up because I’m so excited that they’re getting out on the water and having a great time. So for me, being here is absolutely fabulous.
My career has been all about helping people recreate and enjoy their time [outdoors]. To me, public service is a big deal. Public servants are the backbone of America. Recreation fuels the soul of America. So when people get out and get to relax, it helps us all to be happier and healthier. Recreation is one of the strongest areas of the economy. So having all of these things combined—to me, I love it.
Do you have any tips for people who want to visit Lake Mead but don’t know where to start?
Definitely come out and at least take a look at Lake Mead. It’s outstanding to be traveling through the desert and then all of a sudden it’s this gorgeous blue color. It just glistens. What you should do is keep driving toward it. We have a [free] visitor center. You can just drive down to the beach at Boulder and get into the water, put your beach chairs right on the water’s edge. Relax and enjoy the park, go for a swim, paddleboard, kayak, whatever folks would like to do.
What are some things that Lake Mead is doing to help keep visitors safe?
We put out tons of safety messaging. You can see them on social media and on our website. We have life jacket loaner stations for folks who may not have enough life jackets.
Is climate change something you are worried about?
When we’re getting these really high temperatures, we’re trying to educate folks to make sure they have tons of water. Just a few minutes in the sun can give you a sunburn. Shade, drink enough water, sunscreen—those are the things needed with high temperatures.
How is the water level at Lake Mead?
It’s been down historically, but I heard that the wet winter might have helped solve that problem, at least temporarily.
We pay attention to the water levels because that helps us plan where our facilities and beaches will be. With the current levels of snow and moisture, our water levels are consistent for the next few years. That is great news for Lake Mead. And our visitors are having a wonderful time and enjoying it.
This story originally appeared in the Las Vegas Weekly.