Josie Fernandez, superintendent of Hot Springs National Park since 2004, is retiring next month. She was the first woman named to lead the unit, which had its beginning in 1832.
Her tenure has included substantial progress in the revitalization of historic Bathhouse Row. In addition to working with the Park Service for 25 years, Fernandez has served in the Air Force Reserve, retiring as a colonel.
There’s no word yet on her replacement. Given recent efforts to cut costs in federal agencies, it’s easy to wonder about the commitment the Trump Administration will have to the Hot Springs unit. It was placed on the chopping block at least once before, in the 1980s, but congressional intervention spared it.
Fernandez said she’ll stay in Hot Springs after retirement at the end of March.
Fernandez’s tenure was marked by some scraps, including her effort to give the park service exclusive rights to the name Hot Springs National Park, which has long been used in advertising by the convention and visitors bureau. The Park Service lost that legal tussle.