At Home in the Park
|Dan Richards, the new park manager at Huntington, Millsite and Scofield State Parks, looks forward to the challenges ahead.|
Dan Richards is the new park manager at Huntington, Millsite and Scofield State Parks. He and his family are just settling into Emery County. Richards said, "I am just getting caught up on everything here in the office. There's so much to learn and do. The people here at the park have really been great at straightening me out. Our inlet for watering the park has been high and dry for awhile, so Jay Mark Humphrey from the water conservancy district helped us with the equipment and a pump so we could still pump water up to our system and still have water for the park.
"I am originally from Sioux Falls, S.D. and a graduate of South Dakota University in 1991. I have a park management degree. During the summers I worked seasonally up in North Dakota. I married my wife Jayne in 1989 and we have three sons. They are named Cle, Eli and Jimmie. Cle is 7 and in the second grade. Eli is 4 and just going into preschool and Jimmie is 2. We are currently renting Ron Taylor's home, he was the previous park manager. We were down in Escalante and didn't have much time to look around, so we just rented Ron's house. We are thinking about purchasing a home, but want to take our time and look around. We like the Castle Dale and Orangeville area because it is centrally located, between the two parks in Emery County.
"While I was a seasonal employee with North Dakota State Parks, I worked as a night ranger on the Missouri River. From 1992-98, I worked as a park ranger at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. From 1998-2002, I was the assistant manager at the Escalante Petrified Forest State Park.
"I enjoy going fishing and my boys enjoy it, but I don't think my wife does. When we were first dating I took her fishing and she was sitting and reading a book with her pole out in the water. I was out in the water in my waders casting for walleye when I saw her pole bobbing and told her she had a bite. She replied, 'OK, I'll check it in a minute, when I'm done with this chapter.' That was my first clue that she didn't really enjoy fishing. But Cle and Eli really like going out fishing with me. I am also an avid bow hunter. I go back to South Dakota each year and go on a bow hunt with my family.
"While working at Coral Pink, I became interested in scorpions. I have presented information at the resource festival in Richfield on scorpions and also taken people on night walks to spot scorpions. I hope to do some of that around here. Ron Taylor already arranged for me to present a scorpion session to the boy scouts. Down at Coral Pink I was moving rocks and saw one, I had never seen one before and found them fascinating. Most people think they are deadly and dangerous, but that is not true of most species.
"At first my wife didn't want the scorpion in the house, but she felt sorry for me taking care of it outside, so I moved him in. Well, once I had my foot in the door this led to more and more tanks filled with scorpions. Once we started having kids however, the scorpions had to move back outside.
"Down at Coral Pink I was in charge of the ATV program and the off-highway patrolling. The sand dunes there have a lot of regular riders that come up from Las Vegas and California. They discovered us because the Little Sahara dunes are really crowded. We maintained a family atmosphere and civilized type ATV riding. Families came together and rode together. When I was at Escalante which is a satellite office of Kodachrome, I ran the park and supervised the seasonal workers and worked with the seasonal hosts. I did more paperwork and it was a good transitional phase for this position.
"This is the only place where the management of three parks is combined. Hopefully, we'll get to where we have everything under control. Last year when Scofield was added to the operation it brought a whole new dimension. The state is streamlining operations and trying to make things more efficient. Even with the closing of the three parks they were able to move people around so they didn't have to lay anyone off. Some people retired as well.
"We are really enjoying this area and the community and neighbors. They have all been over to introduce themselves. This is the first time we have lived in a town. At the other parks we lived in park housing. The kids are used to running around the park and my youngest son would always sit on the ATVs that belonged to the park. The other day we found him over at the neighbors sitting on their ATV. It will take some getting used to but we are enjoying being in a town and having everything close. We used to have to make a trip to Cedar City to do our shopping which was a four hour round trip, the other day we went to Price and it didn't take all day; it was great.
"My wife also sells Mary Kay, which gives her the opportunity to get out of the house. She also has an elementary degree and wants to do some substitute teaching. We all love football and Cle's favorite team is the Vikings and Eli's favorite team is Denver. I wanted to push my favorite team on them, but they have their own opinions. The kids were really excited to live somewhere that had a swimming pool.
"We have some neat state parks and they are well maintained. Lena Funk does a great job up to Millsite and with the camp host they do a great job. I am looking forward to getting more involved with the parks. I haven't had a lot of time for that yet. Up to Millsite they have been replacing the sidewalks to the restrooms and other little projects. At Huntington we are going to begin work on seven pavilions which will have a picnic table and a 14' x 14' slab of cement and fire grates. Some of them will be ADA accessible. We will pour the pads in the next two-three months. In the spring we will be updating and improving the sprinker system. A boating information kiosk will also be installed near the dock area. This will contain boating information, wildlife information and fishery information. These will be let out for bid soon and we'll get those in next year.
"We also want to plant more trees in the overflow area. Last year when the water got below the intake we lost some trees, because we couldn't water. This year we have been able to keep watering with Jay Mark Humphrey's help. I want to get around and meet people in the county. I met some people at the Emery Telcom barbeque and am looking forward to working with the communities," said Richards.