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State Parks Director Don Hoch Receives National Distinguished Service Award

Washington State Parks

State Parks Director Don Hoch Receives National Distinguished Service Award
The National Association of State Park Directors each year recognizes outstanding contributions and support to state parks and state park systems across the U.S., said Domonic Bravo, NASPD president.

“It is great to recognize the amazing professionals who give of themselves to America’s state parks,” Bravo said. “We’re pleased and proud for Don and feel that this national award is very well-deserved,” said Mark Brown, Chair of the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission. “Under Don’s leadership, Washington State Parks has made a dramatic turnaround in the face of incredible challenges over the past few years. Don inherited a park system in crisis, as a result of a deep recession and an abrupt financing shift that reduced public tax support. Through Don’s leadership, the agency made tough decisions and took fast action to keep the park system together. Don’s emphasis on collaboration and creativity have led to revenue programs and business approaches that are bringing the agency success and continual improvements. Staff morale is rising, and the agency and Commission are confident about the future of the park system.”

Hoch came to Washington State Parks in 2004 to serve in the role of Puget Sound Region Director. The Commission hired him as director in 2010. Hoch has more than 40 years in the parks and recreation field, from city, county, state and federal, to private sector experience. His work has taken him to nine states across the country, with the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, the Georgia State Park System and Bibb County, Georgia, to name a few. He has worked in areas of resource management, law enforcement, recreation and sports and park management.

He has received several leadership and community awards, including the Georgia State Park Superintendent of the Year; the Historic Heartland Travel Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award; the Georgia Recreation and Parks Association’s Outdoor Section and Aquatics Section Distinguished Professional awards; American Cancer Society Circle of Friends Award and the Georgia Friend of 4-H Award. Among the director’s accomplishments, Hoch spearheaded the creation of the first Special Olympics Sailing Center in Georgia and the created several first-ever professional and televised events for mountain biking and personal watercraft racing. During the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Hoch developed and operated an international youth sports camp where participants were able to attend Olympic events and meet Olympians. In Washington, Don developed the NASPD Annual Capital Campout event, which has occurred the past four years, and he initiated the popular “First Day Hikes” event held every New Year’s Day in many Washington state parks. He was instrumental in securing the “No Child Left Inside” youth engagement grant program in Washington State.

Hoch’s leadership style is collaborative, and he encourages partnerships that benefit the public and add value for visitors. Under his leadership, State Parks is part of a successful co-management agreement with a quasi-governmental organization to preserve and provide greater use and access at iconic Fort Worden Historic State Park; Parks entered a lease agreement with a private real estate developer to improve the Seminary Building and park grounds at Saint Edward Historic State Park; and the agency also is continuing a unique co-ownership relationship with the Swinomish Tribe at Kukutali Preserve—unique northern Puget Sound island with rare ecological features available for public education and enjoyment.

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A state study completed by the Recreation and Conservation Office in January 2015, finds that people in Washington spend nearly $22 billion each year hiking, skiing, boating, golfing, and in other outdoor pursuits.  See Study

 

January 2014 - Outdoor recreation is an economic powerhouse in the United States, each year generating $646 billion in customer spending and 6.1 million direct jobs.  See Study

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