New Head of Parks Agency Named

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<i> From a Times Staff Writer</i>

Donald W. Murphy, the superintendent of the state’s Big Sur park district, was named Tuesday by Gov. Pete Wilson to head the financially troubled California Parks and Recreation Department.

A 12-year veteran in the department, Murphy becomes chief administrator of the state’s vast park system as it faces tough times. Late last week, Murphy’s predecessor, Henry Agonia, ordered the partial closing of several parks and cutbacks in administrative and maintenance expenditures in an attempt to erase a $30-million budget shortage.

The Planning and Conservation League, a prominent environmental organization, described Murphy as an excellent choice to head the system. However, Lynn Sadler, the league’s natural resources director, criticized Wilson for waiting too long to replace Agonia, a holdover from the Administration of former Gov. George Deukmejian.


“(Murphy) has his work cut out for him,” she said. “The delay in appointing a parks director has left the department without any real direction in more than a year. Morale is in almost as bad a shape as the budget.”

In announcing Murphy’s appointment, Wilson praised him as a “hands on” supervisor who knows the vast park system from personal experience.

The system encompasses 1.2 million acres in 285 state parks, beaches, recreation areas and wilderness areas.