MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, WY – Chris Flesch has been selected as the new Yellowstone National Park chief of Visitor and Resource Protection (VRP). A 17-year veteran of the National Park Service (NPS), Flesch succeeds Sarah Davis who retired at the end of April. He is the park’s 19th chief ranger, and his appointment began May 1.
Flesch will oversee more than 275 employees who perform a full range of public safety and visitor service functions within the park, including law enforcement and emergency medical services, search and rescue, wildland and structural fire, dispatch, fee collection, special use permitting, corrals and backcountry operations. The division’s budget exceeds $14 million.
“We’re pleased to have Chris join our senior leadership team as chief ranger,” said superintendent Cam Sholly. “He has shown incredible leadership acumen throughout his career and is one of the best problem solvers and collaborators I’ve worked with.”
Childhood visits to Yellowstone National Park in the 1980’s inspired Flesch to become a park ranger. On one such visit more than 30 years ago, he became a Junior Ranger.
While working as a concession employee at Old Faithful the summer of 2002, Flesch gained a deep appreciation for the work of law enforcement and emergency medical services staff. In 2004, he began his NPS career as a Yellowstone seasonal law enforcement ranger after completing seasonal law enforcement training at Northern Arizona University. After multiple assignments throughout Yellowstone, Flesch served as the Hall’s Crossing district ranger at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. He then returned to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem as the law enforcement specialist, and later acting chief ranger, at Grand Teton National Park.
Flesch has served as the deputy chief ranger at Yellowstone since 2019. During his tenure, he served as the park’s COVID-19 incident commander while also providing oversight to law enforcement and emergency medical services, search and rescue, and wildland and structural fire programs.
“It is a true honor and privilege to be selected as the next chief ranger of Yellowstone National Park,” said Flesch. “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to serve as the chief ranger during the milestone 150 anniversary year and look forward to continuing to advance the park’s strategic priorities while also working to ensure the health and safety of all our visitors and employees.”
A native of Bettendorf, Iowa, Flesch has a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from Arizona State University and graduated from the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in 2013.