Sonoma County Regional Parks Director Announces Resignation

January 18, 2017 in News

Administrator to Leave Post in June 2017 to Focus on National Issues

Sonoma County Regional Parks Director Caryl Hart has announced her resignation effective June 20, 2017. Hart has led the department since 2010, overseeing the operations of 56 parks, trails and beaches and a staff of 200 full-time and seasonal employees.

In a Jan. 18 letter to employees and the Board of Supervisors, Hart said her decision was based on several factors, including a desire to help national non-profits and federal representatives deal with the threats to parks and the environment posed by Trump administration policies.

During Hart’s tenure, Sonoma County’s parks system grew by several thousand acres with the opening of Taylor Mountain, North Sonoma Mountain and the Laguna de Santa Rosa Trail and the expansion of several existing parks.

Charged with adopting a more entrepreneurial business model for the department, Hart oversaw a 60 percent increase in day-use and camping revenue and encouraged strategic marketing of the park membership program, which has grown nearly 50 percent to 25,000 members.

Hart also created the department’s first natural resources division, supported expanded recreation programming and community outreach, and most recently led the campaign for Measure J, a sales tax measure on the November 2016 ballot that fell just shy of the two-thirds approval needed. Hart has volunteered to lead a potential second ballot measure in 2018.

Hart is a former member of the California State Parks Commission, appointed by three successive governors and serving from 2000 to 2013. She led the Commission as chairperson for seven years. During the state budget crisis, Hart co-founded a local alliance of environmental leaders to innovatively respond to the state’s plans to close numerous parks in the county. She successfully negotiated for Regional Parks to manage Annadel State Park for a year, sparing it from temporary closure. She was appointed in 2013 to serve on the Parks Forward Commission, evaluating the future of California State Parks.

Hart has a doctorate in environmental policy management and science from UC Berkeley and a law degree from the University of San Francisco. She lives in Occidental with her husband.

For more information, contact Communications Manager, Meda Freeman at (707) 565-2041.

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