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Nealson Named Chief Ranger of N.C. State Parks

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Roy Cooper, Governor
Susi H. Hamilton, Secretary
Release Note: 
Katie Hall
Release Date: 
Friday, August 16, 2019

Nealson Named Chief Ranger of N.C. State Parks

Raleigh, N.C. – Keith Nealson has been named chief ranger of the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation. He succeeds Bryan Dowdy, who recently retired after 30 years of service to the division. 

The chief ranger is responsible for the state parks law enforcement program and training process. The position requires a balance of resource management, education, safety, and law enforcement to protect natural resources, visitor safety, and visitor experiences in the parks.

Nealson graduated from Northern Arizona University with a Bachelor of Science. He joined the Division of Parks and Recreation in 1998 as a maintenance mechanic at William B. Umstead State Park and became a ranger there shortly thereafter. In 2009, Nealson was promoted to Superintendent of Eno River State Park and served in that position for ten years. 

“Keith brings a new set of skills and a new perspective to the chief ranger position,” said Dwayne Patterson, state parks director. “He has shown exemplary leadership at Eno River, one of our most popular state parks, and is respected by his colleagues. I expect our park rangers will greatly benefit from his direction.”

As Nealson looks ahead to his responsibilities as chief ranger, his vision is clear: “I am looking forward to working with all of the parks to identify what their law enforcement needs and challenges are so that I can get them the training and support required to meet them,” he said.

Nealson began his new position on Aug. 1 in Raleigh. Ranger Kimberly Radewicz will serve as acting superintendent at Eno River State Park in the interim.  


About North Carolina State Parks
North Carolina State Parks manages more than 237,000 acres of iconic landscape within North Carolina’s state parks, state recreation areas and state natural areas. It administers the N.C Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, including its local grants program, as well as a state trails program, North Carolina Natural and Scenic Rivers and more, all with a mission dedicated to conservation, recreation and education. The state parks system welcomes more than 19 million visitors annually.
About the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
The N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDNCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state's natural and cultural resources to build the social, cultural, educational and economic future of North Carolina. NCDNCR's mission is to improve the quality of life in our state by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history, libraries and nature in North Carolina by stimulating learning, inspiring creativity, preserving the state's history, conserving the state's natural heritage, encouraging recreation and cultural tourism, and promoting economic development.
NCDNCR includes 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, two science museums, three aquariums and Jennette's Pier, 39 state parks and recreation areas, the N.C. Zoo, the nation's first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the State Archives, the N.C. Arts Council, State Preservation Office and the Office of State Archaeology, along with the Division of Land and Water Stewardship. For more information, please visit
N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
109 E. Jones Street | Raleigh, N.C. | 27601