Charles F. Sams III Sworn in as National Park Service Director

Charles F. “Chuck” Sams III was ceremonially sworn in as director of the National Park Service at the Lincoln Memorial by Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland on Dec. 16. 

WASHINGTON –  Charles F. “Chuck” Sams III was ceremonially sworn in as director of the National Park Service by Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland on Dec. 16. Sams is the first tribal citizen (Cayuse and Walla Walla) to lead the agency, which has been without a Senate-confirmed leader for nearly five years. 

“Everyone should have access to the outdoors no matter where they live, how much money they have, or what their background is. Chuck Sams understands the importance of connecting people to nature, and I am thrilled to work with him as the Interior Department works to make our national park system accessible to all Americans,” said Secretary Haaland. “Under his leadership, the National Park Service will continue to protect our public lands for generations to come and make critical investments in the vast infrastructure that sustains our public lands and national parks.”

In his capacity overseeing the NPS, Sams will help implement the “Great American Outdoors Act” and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. In addition to historic funding for climate resiliency initiatives and legacy pollution clean-up, the infrastructure law provides for a five-year reauthorization of the Federal Lands Transportation Program, which will help invest in repairing and upgrading NPS roads, bridges, trails and transit systems. The law also invests in projects that will help fund bridge replacements and resiliency, repair ferry boats and terminal facilities, and maintain wildlife crossings that keep people and surrounding wildlife safe.

“I am honored to serve as Director of the National Park Service and thank President Biden and Secretary Haaland for entrusting in me the care of one of America’s greatest gifts: our National Park System. I am also incredibly proud to work with the dedicated employees of the National Park Service. I have no doubt that together, we’ll be able to expand access to the outdoors, protect America’s public lands, and upgrade our nation’s infrastructure system through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” Sams said.

Sams has worked for state and tribal governments and in non-profit natural resource and conservation management fields for more than 25 years. He most recently served as a council member for the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, appointed by Oregon Governor Kate Brown.

He has held a variety of roles with the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, most recently as their executive director. He holds a bachelor of science degree in business administration from Concordia University-Portland and a master of legal studies in Indigenous people’s law from the University of Oklahoma. He is a veteran of the U.S. Navy, and is an enrolled citizen, Cayuse and Walla Walla, of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, where he lives with his wife and their four children.