Senate confirms new Park Service director

WASHINGTON — Mary A. Bomar, a British native and career Interior Department employee, has been confirmed as director of the National Park Service.

She was one of four Interior Department officials confirmed by the Senate at 2 a.m. Saturday as lawmakers rushed to finish work before leaving for recess. She succeeds Fran Mainella, who is stepping down for family reasons.

Bomar, who became a U.S. citizen in 1977, has worked at the Park Service for 17 years, including posts as acting superintendent at Rocky Mountain National Park and superintendent at the Oklahoma City National Memorial. She has been the Park Service's Northeast regional director since 2005.

She takes over as the Park Service is struggling with a backlog of maintenance and rehabilitation projects. Critics have complained that the Bush administration has favored recreation interests at the expense of conservation, though the agency has recently retreated from some of its most controversial plans.

Mainella this summer rejected a management proposal that critics said would have expanded the use of snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles on federal land. Instead, she signed a policy emphasizing that conservation is the parks' first responsibility.

The Senate also confirmed David Longly Bernhardt to be Solicitor, Robert W. Johnson to be Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, and C. Stephen Allred to be Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals.