August 30, 2006

Conservationist worked 42 years for park service


Los Angeles Times

Despite many accomplishments during 42 years with the National Park Service, Stanley T. Albright was often known as ''the nephew of.'' His uncle, Horace Albright, co-founded the park service in 1916.

Stanley T. Albright died Aug. 18 in a care facility in West Linn, Ore., after a long illness, said his wife, Kris. He was 74.

During the Reagan administration, Albright served under Interior Secretary James G. Watt, who was known for favoring profit over preservation when it came to federal land. A resolute conservationist, Albright preserved many national park programs Watt sought to dismantle, according to the park service.

In 1987, Albright became director of the western region, overseeing national parks in California and five other states for ''10 tumultuous years'' as the park budgets flattened, the park service said.
However, he trained the generation of superintendents now running many of the nation's parks.

And he played a key role in the passage of the 1994 California Desert Protection Act that created Death Valley National Park. With 3.4 million acres, it is the largest national park in the contiguous United States. The act also spawned Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave National Preserve.

Tapped in 1997 to return to Yosemite -- he had served on the ski patrol decades before -- park superintendent Albright led an effort to repair extensive damage to the park from a Merced River flood.

Two years into his Yosemite stewardship, Albright was replaced. He ended his career as a natural resources consultant before retiring from the park service in 2000 .

Albright was born in Oakland and grew up in Bishop, Calif. After serving in the Army during the Korean War, he graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1958 with a degree in biology. He became a fire lookout in the Inyo National Forest, and later managed concessions at the Grand Canyon.

As state director of the National Park Service in Alaska in the 1970s, Albright helped lay the groundwork for the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980, which created 10 national parks and expanded several others. The 44 million acres effectively doubled the size of the national park system.

In addition to his second wife, Kris, Albright is survived by a son, Sean Albright of Walnut Creek, Calif., and a stepson, Jon Finney of Lake Oswego, Ore.