Stephen Prokop has been selected as superintendent at Redwood National and State Parks. Prokop, who is currently superintendent at Kalaupapa National Historical Park, will assume his new duties in Crescent City, California, in early April. Prokop replaces former superintendent Steve Chaney, who retired late last year.
“Steve is an excellent choice for this park,” said Regional Director Chris Lehnertz. “His experience forging and maintaining partnerships with different groups at Kalaupapa will help tremendously in managing the varied resources at Redwood.”
Prokop has served as superintendent of Kalaupapa National Historical Park since 2008. Throughout his tenure there, Prokop has worked cooperatively and effectively with many organizations including the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Department of Hawaiian Homelands, and the Ka ‘Ohana O Kalaupapa, as well as native Hawaiian groups, who consider Kalaupapa a sacred site. Prokop had a lead role in developing the first general management plan for the park since its establishment in 1980. Prokop also oversaw a multi-million dollar construction project to repair the Kalaupapa Pier that required special attention to sensitive coral reef and endangered species along with submerged cultural resources.
A native of New Haven, Connecticut, Prokop graduated from the University of Connecticut in 1978 with a B.S. in Marketing. His first work with the National Park Service was as a lifeguard at Gateway National Recreation Area in New Jersey and at Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco and Marin County during the summers while he attended college. Upon graduation, Prokop was hired as a permanent park ranger/lifeguard at Golden Gate NRA. He served in many capacities there from 1978 through 2001, including supervisory park ranger and Deputy Chief Ranger. In 1993 he received a Masters in Public Administration from San Francisco State University.
From 2001 to 2004 Prokop was Chief Ranger at Whiskeytown National Recreation Area in northern California where he worked with natural resources staff at the park to reduce impacts from large scale marijuana gardens. He then served as Chief Ranger at Cape Cod National Seashore for several years, during which time he worked with off-road vehicle groups and conservation groups in writing an environmental assessment that kept open an off-road vehicle corridor while still protecting endangered shorebirds.
Prokop has held many positions of responsibility beyond his duties as superintendent at Kalaupapa. In the last few years he has served as chairperson for the Park Service’s Pacific Islands Network of park superintendents, as that group’s representative on the NPS Pacific West Regional Leadership Council, and as the superintendent representative on the region’s Maintenance Advisory Committee. Last year Prokop served as Co-Chair of the Pacific West Regional Leadership Council. These challenging collateral duty assignments provided Prokop with many important decision making opportunities and responsibilities that greatly impacted the natural resources, cultural resources, and financial resources of the 59 national park units in the Pacific West Region.
In 2011 Prokop graduated from an 18-month residency fellowship program at the National Conservation Leadership Institute (NCLI) in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. The course instructors from the Kennedy School of Government and the NCLI provided fresh perspectives and approaches to challenging conservation issues.
Redwood National and State Parks are located at the northern end of the range of the coast redwood, Sequoia sempervirons. The parks are home to many of the world’s tallest trees, including the current record-holder, standing over 379 feet in height, and also protect large prairies, oak woodlands, and over 40 miles of wild coastline. Established in 1968 and greatly enlarged ten years later, Redwood National and State Parks are jointly managed by the National Park Service and California State Parks. Together they are listed as a World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve.
Prokop stated “I look forward to working together in a spirit of cooperation and understanding with the employees and park partners at Redwood National and State Parks to help ensure the long term preservation, protection, and interpretation of the incredible natural resources and cultural resources of the parks.” Prokop and his wife Cristina look forward to returning to northern California and beginning an exciting new chapter in their lives.