The National Association of State Park Directors has named a new leadership team to help guide the organization into the future, with South Carolina State Parks Director Paul McCormack as president of the organization.
Rodney Franklin, director of Texas State Parks, is the new vice president, and Ray Bivens, director of Delaware State Parks, is the new secretary.
McCormack has worked nearly 30 years for South Carolina State Parks, serving as director since 2019. He has a bachelor’s degree in education from the Citadel and is currently completing master’s coursework, according to a news release from the association. McCormack was inspired to pursue a career in parks after meeting a South Carolina State Park ranger at an outdoor expo. From there, he applied for a position, was hired as a ranger, and rose through the ranks, serving in parks around the Palmetto State.
"In my five years as director of South Carolina State Parks, the relationships and connections I’ve made in NASPD have helped me immeasurably, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve as the president of an association that has given me so much,” McCormack said in the release. "America’s state parks include some of the most beautiful, unique and significant landscapes and resources in the country. As Americans have discovered or rediscovered a love for the great outdoors in recent years, our work to engage visitors, ignite passion, increase education and expand access is more important now than ever. I’m thrilled to roll up my sleeves alongside the other leaders in NASPD as we advance America’s state parks together.”
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"We are fortunate to have very strong and experienced leaders provide strategic guidance to NASPD," Lewis Ledford, NASPD executive director, said in the news release. "Paul, Rodney, and Ray are well-respected among their peers and will help to enhance the profile of our organization and the importance of state parks in American life."
South Carolina State Parks works to protect the natural, cultural and man-made treasures in the park system, “provide exceptional visitor experiences, and generate enough revenue to remain operationally self-sufficient,” the release said. Under McCormack’s leadership, the Park Service has focused on improving working conditions for park staff and increasing access for visitors. These efforts have included increasing wages, encouraging a healthy focus on work-life balance, overseeing new land acquisitions, and launching programs to reach individuals who haven’t traditionally used or had access to public outdoor spaces, the release stated.
The state park system includes 47 operational parks and six historic properties, offering thousands of campsites, two 18-hole golf courses, two saltwater fishing piers, lakes, ponds and hundreds of miles of hiking and riding trails. Plans are underway to open more state parks.