It’s not much of a change from Calumet, Michigan…population 727, to Wall, South Dakota…population 766.
But it’s quite a jump going from supervising the 3-square mile Keweenaw National Historical Park beside Calumet to running the 380,000 square mile Badlands National Park…just down the road from Wall.
And though Mike Pflaum spent 18 years as Chief Park Ranger at Mount Rushmore National Memorial, being responsible for a park the size of the Badlands is definitely a new challenge.
“Badlands,” observes Pflaum, “it’s a huge, stunning natural resource park. Where I am now is a much smaller historical park. And…so…we don’t have bison…for example…here on the shores of Lake Superior (chuckles). So…it’s the size of the park, The fact that the park there at Badlands is primarily natural resources and the park I work at right now is primarily cultural and historic resources.”
Integral to the operation of the park, notes Pflaum, is the inclusion of area tribes.
“We value those partnerships and consider them true consulting partners in figuring out how we best manage this great place…Badlands National Park,” explains Pflaum. “And how we best serve the visitors.”
Mike Pflaum adds that maintaining open communications with tribal entities is the key to success for Badlands National Park.