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Contact: Stephenie Wade, Gulf Islands National Seashore, 850-393-7952
Contact: Saudia Muwwakkil, National Park Service, 404-275-9838ATLANTA — Today National Park Service (NPS) South Atlantic-Gulf Regional Director Stan Austin announced Darrell Echols as the new superintendent of Gulf Islands National Seashore, effective July 18.
“Darrell is a dynamic leader with Gulf Coast roots and essential experience protecting some of the country’s most beloved coastal areas,” said Austin. “He’s led high-performing teams, overseen regional climate change adaptation strategies, guided parks through hurricane preparedness and recovery, and exceled at integrating natural and cultural heritage preservation and tourism. This selection marks a collective win for the park, its stakeholders and visitors.”
Gulf Islands National Seashore is the nation’s largest seashore. Created in 1971, the national park protects 160 miles from Cat Island, Mississippi, to the Okaloosa Area east of Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
"I’ve had the honor of serving as acting superintendent of Gulf Islands National Seashore for the last three months,” said Echols. “I’ve taken every opportunity to help build trust with park staff, partners and the community and to be the kind of advocate this park deserves. I look forward to building on the great foundation set long ago and advancing a shared new vision for the future of this park and its treasured resources.”
Echols began his federal career in 1989 working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Corpus Christi, Texas studying seagrasses. In 1990, he transferred to the NPS where he spent 18 years working for the resource management division at Padre Island National Seashore. While there, Echols managed multifaceted projects involving shorebirds, marine mammals, sea turtles, marine debris, wetlands, wildland fire, and oil and gas development.
In 2008, Echols became deputy superintendent of the Outer Banks Group in North Carolina, consisting of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Wright Brothers National Memorial and Fort Raleigh National Historic Site.
There, he led park operations, issues management, partnershipdevelopment and resources management. Since 2014, Echols has served as regional chief of science and natural resources management for the NPS South-Atlantic Gulf region, based in Atlanta. In this role, he and his team have provided scientific expertise, technical assistance, and policy guidance to 74 parks in a footprint spanning nine states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
During his tenure with the regional office, Echols has also served as an acting deputy regional director, acting superintendent of Virgin Islands National Park, and as program manager for the region’s COVID-19 pandemic response.
A native of Sinton, Texas, Echols holds a Bachelor of Science degree in marine biology from Texas A&M University- Corpus Christi.
Echols is married to his best friend and wife of 23 years, Nancy. They have a daughter studying biology at the University of North Georgia and a son entering Georgia’s Kennesaw State University as an engineering major. Echols and his wife enjoy fishing, surfing, gardening, and traveling.
Last updated: July 16, 2021