Stan Austin, who has served as the director of the Southeast Region of the National Park Service since 2013, has been named regional director of the Pacific West Region by the agency’s acting director, P. Daniel Smith.
In his new role, Austin will oversee operations for more than 60 national parks, 241 national historic landmarks, 100 national natural landmarks and many other associated sites within the eight states of California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, portions of Arizona and Montana and the territories of Guam, American Samoa, as well as the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands. The region’s parks host 66 million visitors a year and contribute $5 billion to local economies.
Austin’s predecessor in the Pacific West was Laura Joss, who in November became superintendent of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, perennially one of the top two most-visited units in the National Park Service. Joss replaced Christine Lehnertz, who left in 2016 for the Grand Canyon National Park after a sexual harassment scandal that led to the retirement of that park’s former chief.
The appointment of Austin continues a realignment of top Park Service positions in the West that were touched by harassment scandals during the NPS centennial in 2016. Mike Reynolds, who had been acting director of the agency after Jon Jarvis’ retirement, recently was named by Smith, his replacement, as superintendent of Yosemite National Park. Don Neubacher resigned as Yosemite’s superintendent amid harassment allegations in November of 2016.
In the Southeast, Austin oversaw a region that spans 70 parks in 9 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. During the past five years, he has guided the region through many complex and sensitive issues, including restoration of the Everglades, multiple hurricanes and fires, and operational and workplace reform. He supported the expansion and name change of Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park and oversaw the introduction of four new parks into the National Park System.
Austin began his career with the National Park Service at Gateway National Recreation Area as an interpretive park ranger, resource management specialist, and law enforcement ranger. He later served as deputy superintendent of Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, superintendent of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Utah and Arizona, acting deputy superintendent at Yosemite National Park in California, and superintendent at Cuyahoga Valley National Park in Ohio. As a Mike Mansfield Fellow, Austin spent two years in Tokyo, Japan working with the Government of Japan’s Ministries of Construction and Environment. He also served on the Hurricane Mitch federal response team in Nicaragua providing hurricane relief assistance.
A New Jersey native, Austin earned a bachelor of science in environmental sciences with a focus on biology from Rutgers University.