William Penn Mott, California parks director when President Reagan was governor, was chosen today to head the National Park Service.
Mott, 75, is president of the California State Parks Foundation, a private group he founded in 1975, and general manager of the East Bay Zoological Society in Oakland, where he lives.
Interior Secretary Donald P. Hodel said in a statement that Mott is “known the world over for his innovative approaches to developing and protecting the parks.”
“We are absolutely pleased,” said Destry Jarvis of the National Parks and Conservation Assn. “For the first time in this Administration, the park service will have the clout within the Administration and outside to compete for its own priorities.”
The nomination also won praise from Clay Peters of the Wilderness Society, a group often at odds with the Reagan Administration. “He will be a real asset to the national parks. From what I can detect he is extremely vigorous both physically and mentally,” Peters said.
Mott worked for the National Park Service from 1933 to 1946, then worked in the San Francisco Bay Area parks system until becoming director of the California Department of Parks and Recreation.
As director, he doubled the size of the state park system and pioneered the hiring of women as park rangers, the Interior Department’s announcement said. He has been a consultant on parks to Australia and Costa Rica.
Mott continues the tradition, broken only once since the service was founded in 1916, that heads of the agency, if not drawn from the career ranks, are at least professionals in park operations.
Mott would succeed Russell Dickenson, a career service employee who is retiring.
The National Park Service, which consistently ranks in polls as the most popular of all federal agencies, operates 334 parks and other installations such as national monuments and battlefields.