Government lawyer named as new Grand Canyon park leader

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Grand Canyon National Park is shown in this Oct. 5, 2013 file photo. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

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GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Ariz. (AP) — A veteran lawyer for the U.S. Interior Department has been appointed as the new superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park, a crown jewel of the park system, the National Park Service announced Friday.

Edward Keable, currently the assistant solicitor of general law for the Office of the Solicitor of the Interior Department, will assume his new post in northern Arizona within 60 days, the park service said in a statement.

He replaces Christine Lehnertz, who resigned as the park’s superintendent in early 2019 after being cleared of allegations she created a hostile workplace,.

Lehnertz had been tasked with overturning a culture of sexual harassment that included male employees in the park’s now-defunct river district preying on female colleagues.

Lehnretz’s departure left one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations without a permanent leader during its centennial year. Other park service officials filled the role temporarily.

Keable has been in his current job since 2012 and has worked in the Office of the Solicitor for 23 years and for the federal government for a total of 30 years, the agency said.

“Ed brings excellent leadership skills and passion for our nation’s public lands to his new role as the superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park,” said David Vela, the park service’s deputy director. “His experience at the Department of the Interior also provides a broader perspective that will be an enormous benefit to the park, employees, and visitors.”

Keable said he has long regarded the Grand Canyon as “the most beautiful place on Earth.”

The Grand Canyon is normally the second-busiest national park in the country behind Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Nearly 6.4 million visitors went to the Grand Canyon in 2018,

The park closed on Wednesday because of the coronoavirus outbreak. Numerous park facilities were shut down earlier.

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