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Bob Wise, Governor
Ed Hamrick, Director

News Release
For release:
January 6, 2005


Hoy Murphy , Public Information Officer (304) 558-3380

Contact: J.R. Pope, Parks and Recreation Section Chief (304) 558-2764


West Virginia , Florida State Parks Heads Named Leaders In Association

-- Southeast State Park Directors Association names President and Vice President--


AMELIA ISLAND , FL– West Virginia State Parks Chief J.R. Pope was named President while Mike Bullock, Director of Florida State Parks accepts Vice President of the Southeast State Park Directors Association ( SESPD ).


"To share office with Chief Pope of West Virginia solidifies my dedication to the State Parks in the Southeast and the partnerships that span across many states,” said Mike Bullock.  “J.R. is a true leader in the business of State Parks and will lead this association with dignity.”


The SESPD , in its 62 nd year, is represented by Directors of state park systems from Alabama , Arkansas , Florida , Georgia , Kentucky , Louisiana , Maryland , Mississippi , North Carolina , South Carolina , Tennessee , Virginia , and West Virginia .  Through an annual meeting within a host state, the SESPD is an instrumental force in the emergence of the Southeastern State Park programs as some of the largest, best managed and most progressive systems in the country.  This year, the meeting was held at the historic Ribault Club House on Ft. George Island , one of Florida 's State Park gems.


Pope has an extensive background in both parks management and effective marketing. He has been serving as chief of West Virginia 's state park system since 2001. Formerly, he served as director of Kanawha County Parks as well as has municipal parks management experience in the state of Missouri .


During Pope's service as chief, West Virginia's state park system established an online gift shop; carried out a $3-million upgrade program in all state park lodge rooms and cabins; developed the first State Parks' collectors edition of the MONOPOLY board game; successfully installed a computerized park reservation and property management system at all lodge/resort parks; initiated on-going construction of a new lodge at Chief Logan State Park; initiated design work on a significant planned expansion of Twin Falls State Park's lodge; worked with the Canaan Valley Resort State Park concessionaire to expedite a  $1.5-million in park improvement investment  by that company; and witnessed the  latter stages of development and subsequent opening and transition to private operation of the Stonewall Resort.

Bullock is a 32-year veteran of Florida 's award-winning state park system previously served as Assistant Director of the Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Recreation and Parks, overseeing day-to-day operations of Florida 's 158 state parks and the Division's more than 1,000 employees.


Florida 's state park system is one of the largest in the country with 158 parks covering more than 700,000 acres. Over the last five years, Florida added eight new parks and more than 203,000 acres to its nationally-renowned park system and increased attendance by five million, welcoming a record 19.1 million visitors last year. In 1999, Florida received the National Gold Medal for Excellence award for its outstanding state park system.


The West Virginia State Parks System includes 34 state parks, nine state forests, four wildlife management areas and two rail trails. Along with a very conservative estimate of its $127-million annual economic impact, the state park system provides developed local recreation not otherwise typically available in rural West Virginia; provides employment to some 2,000 West Virginians; protects irreplaceable scenic, cultural, historic and natural resources; and projects a positive image for West Virginia nationally due to its reputation for excellence.



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