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New Project Manager, New Progress in Park Decarbonization


It’s been a big year for NPLSF’s largest major project, Decarbonize the Parks, an initiative to help all five of Lake Superior’s national parks transition off fossil fuel and onto clean electricity. 


After careful engineering research on strategies and costs for decarbonization in each park we are beginning the implementation phase where plans become actions. Thanks to support from the National Park Foundation and McKnight Foundation, we have hired a new project manager, John Chekan, to oversee this crucial element of the work.


“As we help parks decarbonize their buildings and operations we need someone who deeply understands, from the inside, what will work on the ground and how to get there,” said NPLSF Executive Director Tom Irvine. “We are thrilled that National Park Service veteran John Chekan is now on our team to turn our decarbonization vision into reality.”

Chekan recently retired after 33 years with the National Park Service heading up facility management, construction, planning, and other key leadership roles.  He most recently worked as the Regional Chief of Facility Maintenances for the National Park Service’s Alaska Regional Office. With undergraduate and graduate degrees in Civil Engineering and extensive training in National Park Service project management, contracting, and advanced facilities maintenance practices, he will be able to understand the technical side of decarbonization as well as the processes and procedures unique to the National Park Service.


“As an engineer, who has worked primarily in remote wilderness settings in Alaska and elsewhere, I know how to plan, construct, and evaluate projects as well as how the funding and operations work within the National Park Service,” Chekan said. “I am looking forward to putting these skills into helping Lake Superior’s parks move off fossil fuels in a way that works really well for operations staff and the visitor experience.”

A Michigan native, Chekan received both of his engineering degrees from Michigan Technological University and is now based near Boyne Falls. 


Chekan joins the project at an exciting time as some smaller initiatives have shown great results, including replacement of fossil-powered electric appliances in park visitor center and housing at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and a new pilot of all-electric trail maintenance equipment at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.


Lake Superior area park leadership has drawn attention from around the country as an early mover on a major commitment by the National Park Service through their Green Parks Plan.


“The Green Parks Plan is a bold vision to pursue net-zero status in America’s national parks in response to climate change, and we are pleased that NPLSF is a partner to help Lake Superior’s five national parks achieve this goal in the near term,” stated National Park Service Regional Director Bert Frost.

For more information check our recent joint press release with the National Park Service, the Decarbonize the Parks web page, and the exciting media coverage of the project. And stay tuned for more updates as John Chekan and his team drive more and bigger progress in the months to come.


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About The NPLSF


The National Parks of Lake Superior Foundation (NPLSF) exists to provide financial support for projects and programs that preserve the natural resources and cultural heritage of the five Lake Superior national parks: Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Grand Portage National Monument, Isle Royale National Park, Keweenaw National Historical Park, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.


Funded through grants and private donations, NPLSF projects and programs ensure that these great parks and historic sites are maintained for the enjoyment of all current and future visitors.




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