Brian Strong, Director
The Division of Parks and Recreation's Office of the Director, located in Raleigh, oversees the agency's statewide activities to ensure the fulfillment of its mission of conservation, education, and recreation.
The division is organized into the director's office and staff, and the three sections it supervises: administration, operations, and planning and natural resources. The director also coordinates activities of the Recreation Resources Services and the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund Authority.
Strong was appointed in August 2023 to lead the division, having previously served as acting director and deputy director/chief of planning and natural resources. He has been a member of the state parks staff since 2000. Strong holds a master's degree in Natural Resources Policy from Duke University and a bachelor's in biology and geography from Wittenberg University.
Eric Estes, Deputy Director of Administration
The magnificent natural resources of the North Carolina state parks system and the field staff who serve as their primary stewards are the most visible and recognizable images of the Division of Parks and Recreation. However, behind the scenes, specialists play a critical role in helping the agency fulfill its mission.
The administrative section of the division oversees personnel, enterprise development, information technology, engineering and construction, budgeting, and accounting.
Deputy Director of Planning and Natural Resources
The planning and natural resources section of the division includes biologists and researchers in natural resource management, land acquisition specialists, and professional staff in regional planning, grant administration, and communications and marketing. More information on the work of these subsections is listed on this page.
Kathy Capps, Deputy Director of Operations
The operations section includes field staff and professional staff in Raleigh and district offices, and they have a wide range of responsibilities:
- Interpretation and education, overseeing programming and special events;
- Natural and cultural resource management, monitoring species and site conditions, as well as on-the-field implementation of resource management plans;
- Visitor protection and safety, prioritizing the safety of both our employees and visitors, conducting training and response for natural disasters, emergency medical services, firefighting, search and rescue, and law enforcement;
- Facility and grounds maintenance, handling equipment and conducting inspections; and
- Administration, managing budgets, personnel, special projects, and public operations.
|Chief Ranger||Kristen Woodruff|
|North District Superintendent||Vacant|
|South District Superintendent||Vacant|
|East District Superintendent||Joe Shimel|
|West District Superintendent||Sean McElhone|
The staff of the Trails Program, along with the North Carolina Trails Committee, work together to enable volunteers, nonprofit organizations, and government agencies to develop trail plans, preserve land, and manage trails for all trail users.
Staff provides technical assistance, offers grant opportunities and develops successful partnerships with local conservation and recreation advocates.
The North Carolina State Parks System is a dynamic and growing entity intended to enrich the lives of all North Carolinians, The Division's Planning program works with the Land Protection and Acquisition section to identify and acquire critical acreage. Following acquisition, planners work on preparing the initial development guidelines for the park land, in accordance with the Division's mission statement.
The growth of existing and new parks begins with a corps of long-term planners and landscape architects. Most state parks have master plans, which guide growth and development over time, as well as general management plans that guide day-to-day operations. Every potential land and new facility is scored for priority. In addition, the Division maintains a systemwide plan, which directs the priorities of the state parks system and is regularly revised.
State Trail Planning
The Planning program also oversees North Carolina's state trails, which provide an abundance of opportunities to experience some of the state's most magnificent landscapes.
As units of the North Carolina state parks system, they are distinguished from other regional and local trails, while still offering regional connectivity and public access. State trails are composed of multiple, connected sections, and section sponsors build, maintain and manage their section of the trail – deciding on location, design, surface, permitted uses, and amenities. The Division is responsible for the overall corridor planning and coordination. The Trails and Planning staff provide guidance and assistance to all section sponsors.
For more information on State Trails, please visit the North Carolina Trails website.
|Park Planning Program Staff|
|Program Manager||Dave Head
|Park Planners||Christy Rosas
|State Trails Planner||Smith Raynor
The Division's Natural Resources Program provides field, planning, and construction staff with technical expertise on issues such as rare species protection, exotic species control, monitoring, prescribed fire, forestry, restoration, scientific research, environmental review and compliance, and landscape planning. No aspect of a park's operations functions in isolation. Everything that we do to improve visitor services has an impact on the environment, and every action we take to protect or enhance the environment has an impact on visitors.
|Natural Resources Program Staff|
|Program Manager||Jimmy Dodson
|Mountain Region Biologist||Sharon Becker
office: 704-528-6514 ext. 217
|Piedmont Region Biologist||Jessie Page Jordan
|Coastal Region Biologist||Juan Cervera
|Inventory and Monitoring Specialist||Ed Corey
|Fire Management Officer||Thomas Crate
|Western Ecological Burn Coordinator||Andrew Slack
|Eastern Ecological Burn Coordinator||Jason Haywood
|State Natural Areas and Invasive Species Biologist||Jonathan Short
|Environmental Review Coordinator||Christine Farrell
Land protection and acquisition activities include the development and implementation of land protection plans and land acquisition projects. This includes writing grant proposals for the North Carolina Land and Water Fund and the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund for land acquisition projects. Land protection and acquisition staff also manage the resulting land acquisition projects from meeting the landowners to notifying the park staff that the property is now part of the park. Staff work with the State Property Office to resolve encroachments on the parkland and easement requests. Assessment of potential new units of the state parks system is also a duty of the land protection and acquisition staff.
|Land Protection and Acquisition Program Staff|
|Program Manager||George Norris
|Land Protection Specialist||Michelle Ferree
The state parks system maintains hundreds of millions of dollars of assets in facilities and infrastructure. These include, but are not limited to, modern visitor centers, roads, utility systems, expansive campgrounds, and boating facilities. The Engineering and Construction Program is responsible for managing the design and construction of all these amenities in the state parks.
A team of project managers and engineers oversees the development of new facilities and major renovation of existing facilities. We coordinate the work of design professionals and construction contractors, managing several projects at any one time. We meet regularly with park staff, professional designers, and contractors to make sure jobs are on schedule, meet rigid state standards, and can be adjusted to meet park needs.
|Engineering and Construction Program Staff|
|Design and Construction Manager||Jerry Howerton
|Program Managers||Daron Blount
The Division's communications and marketing team connects all aspects of the state parks system, working with almost every single subsection and program within the organization. Our work plays an integral role in promoting and advancing the Division's mission statement, through media relations, printed publications, websites, social media, special programs and events outreach.
For all media inquiries, please contact Michele Walker at the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources: firstname.lastname@example.org or (919) 814-6660.
|Communications and Marketing Team Staff|
|Public Information Officer||Vacant|
|Website Manager||Kris Anne Bonifacio
|Publications Manager||Lizzie Tucker
|Marketing Manager||Josh Copenhaver
|Communications Specialist||Leah Charbonneau
The Interpretation and Education team serves under the Deputy Director of Operations and works with field staff in identifying interpretive themes, determining and planning programs, developing interpretation and education facilities, and working with teachers, school groups, and other members of the public to help educate visitors of all ages.
|Interpretation and Education Team Staff|
|I&E Manager||Sean Higgins
|I&E Specialists||Brian Bockhahn
|Interpretive Designers||Amy Sawyer
|School Education Assistant||Jennifer Browndorf
|Arts Program Administrator||Anjanee Bell
This page was last modified on 08/09/2023