Longtime national park official Woody Smeck moving on
The Ventura County Star reports that after 11 years as superintendent of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Woody Smeck is moving on to work in Yosemite National Park.
Woody Smeck almost never made it to his favorite spot in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.
Twenty-one years ago, Smeck was fresh out of graduate school and had just started as a landscape architect with the National Park Service. He was trying to get to Rancho Sierra Vista Park, which sits in the shadow of Boney Mountain in Newbury Park, but he was hopelessly lost.
Dirt roads zigged this way and that, signs were nonexistent and Smeck, like other visitors, was on his own to figure out what the park offered, much less where to park. Only about 30,000 people a year were visiting that patch of open space.
But as Smeck climbed through the ranks to become superintendent of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, so did the number of visitors to Sierra Vista, where mule deer roam wide grasslands and white-shouldered kites circle Boney Mountain's marshmallow-shaped rocks.
Now, there are paved roads that lead to bathrooms, signs aplenty and a Native American interpretive area. Mountain bike tracks and runners' shoe prints mix with horse and coyote scat on trails that lead to the mountains or the sea. More than 100,000 people visit the park annually.
"This is my favorite place in the Santa Monica Mountains," he recently said as a sinking sun turned the mountains to amber. But like the sunset, Smeck's time at the park is fleeting.
After 21 years there — 11 as its superintendent — Smeck, 49, is moving on at the end of March to become the deputy superintendent at Yosemite National Park.
To read the full article by Zeke Barlow click here.
Published: Tuesday, January 17, 2012