Can new director get California’s state parks back in the green?

Nov 28, 2012

Coe Park is California’s second-largest state park, spanning more than 87,000 acres. Credit: Melissa Block/NPR

When he retired last year at the age of 63, Major General Anthony L. Jackson, a highly decorated marine whose 36 years of service included stints with Operation Iraqi Freedom and numerous other command posts, headed for the hills – and the beaches, the woods.and mountains.  Jackson purchased an RV as a retirement gift for himself and his wife, and hit the road to explore California’s state parks.

Cut to a year later: Jackson has just been sworn in as director of California’s department of Parks and Recreation. The department has had a bumpy year, with its last director resigning in disgrace after officials were discovered to have hidden over $50 million of parks money in special funds.  Prior to that, dozens of parks went on the closure list due to lack of funds while private citizens rallied to save them.

The new director brings managerial experience, knowledge of renewable energy and environmental issues and a deep love and respect for the outdoors. Governor Jerry Brown said that under his leadership, “the stewardship of California’s beaches, forests, estuaries, dunes and wetlands is in good hands and that the confidence and trust of Californians in our Parks Department will be restored.”  But is that easier said than done?

How does Major General Jackson plan to rehabilitate the beleaguered department? Which parks are most in need of attention?


Major General Anthony L. Jackson, USMC (Ret.), newly appointed director of the California Department of Parks and Recreation

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