The National Park Service has selected MaryEllen “Mel” Whitenack as the Fire Management Officer at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Whitenack was selected from a national pool of applicants and stood out as an exceptional candidate.
“Mel has shown great leadership and done an outstanding job across the Midwest Region of the National Park Service to help parks develop fire programs,” said Chief of Resource Management Daniel Plath, “Mel brings with her years of fire management experience and proven team building skills, including the 2015 National Wildland Fire Leadership Challenge, where Indiana Dunes fire team received the runner-up award for all fire programs across the country.”
Whitenack has been at Indiana Dunes since 2001 and served as the Assistant Fire Management Officer since 2008. Whitenack commented, “I am looking forward to continue our work with the communities and cooperators that surround the park and continue building partnerships that work for the park and the community.”
In her 20-year career with the National Park Service, she has been a part of fire programs including Wiskeytown National Recreation Area as Fire Use Monitor, and a Fire Monitor at Grand Tetons National Park. Her duties at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore have included managing fire programs at Sleeping Bear Dunes and Lincoln Boyhood National Monument. She has helped parks use prescribed burns as a management tool across the country. Not all of her work is in planning; she has represented the NPS on the ground for disaster relief and wildfires from Florida to Alaska. Whitenack lives in Chesterton with her family.