Lisa Hendy will become the new Chief Ranger of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in April, park officials announced Wednesday morning.

Hendy will be the first woman to hold the post in the park. While the park has had female rangers for many years, including female supervisors in the Law Enforcement Division, none has held the chief ranger post.

A Chattanooga native, her first backcountry experiences were in the Smokies when she backpacked there in her youth, a news release from the park said.

Currently the chief ranger at Big Bend National Park, she has a wealth of experience in the field, including "complex ranger operations" at multiple national parks including Yosemite National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Arches National Park, and Rocky Mountains National Park, the release said.

"Hendy will oversee employees in the Resource and Visitor Protection Division who perform law enforcement duties, wildland fire operations, emergency medical services, search and rescue operations, backcountry operations, and staff the emergency communications center," the release said.

Hendy explained she's excited to return to Tennessee for her career.

“I am looking forward to returning to my home state in the park that provided my first real outdoor adventures,” Hendy said in the release. “It will be a pleasure to be involved in the efforts to protect a place that was so instrumental in defining my passions and ultimately my career.”

An outdoor enthusiast, she enjoys kayaking, climbing, hiking, and canyoneering.

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