County Parks Director Brian Carroll stepping down after 25 years of constructing ‘premier’ system

Trying again at 25 years on the helm of the Linn County Parks Division, Brian Carroll above, sits in his workplace. Picture by Scott Swanson

By Scott Swanson
Lebanon Native

In 25 years, by practically all accounts, Brian Carroll has guided the Linn County Parks Division to near-unparalleled success within the state of Oregon.

Underneath his management, county parks are bursting on the seams with campers throughout the summer time months, and there are three extra county campgrounds – River Bend, Cascadia and Clear Lake Resort – now than there have been when he took over in Could 1997.

Carroll and his workers now handle 33 park services, together with six U.S. Forest Service campgrounds, in addition to sustaining the Moyer Home and Museum in Brownsville.

General, throughout his tenure, the scope of the county’s services has grown from just a little greater than 300 campsites in 1997 to just about 600 right now.

Carroll, 60, has introduced – quietly – that he’s retiring, and the county has marketed for a substitute.

“We’re beginning to do interviews, quickly,” Board of Commissioners Roger Nyquist stated, including that the group intends to discover a worthy successor. “There’s no exhausting finish date to this factor.”

Nyquist acknowledged that it was troublesome to sum up Carroll’s impression on Linn County.

“It’s exhausting to speak all of it in a number of sentences. He’s needed to be one half builder, one half developer, one half grant author.

“He actually has developed the premier county parks system within the state. I’m so happy with what he’s completed.”

Former New Period writer Alex Paul has recognized Carroll since 1997, when he wrote a narrative concerning the new director.

“His successor will profit from Brian’s diligence,” Paul stated, “however may also have some huge sneakers to fill.”

‘Humble, Likable Man’

Those that have labored with Carroll attest, universally, to his partaking character and his consideration for others, in addition to an underlying sense of real selflessness. His laid-back, pleasant demeanor is real, as is his give attention to excellence and success.

These are qualities, his bosses and others who’ve interacted with him over time say, which have enabled him to perform what he has.

“An incredible man,” stated Milt Moran, president of Cascade Timber Consulting, who additionally chairs the county Parks Fee. “He completely respects different folks, the considerations that they’ve. Actually, actually humble.”

“He’s a really likable man who’s bought nice folks abilities,” Nyquist stated. “He by no means cared about taking credit score, who bought credit score – nearly getting it achieved. He’s very snug in his personal pores and skin, what he might do. By no means, by no means did he ever over-promise; he simply all the time appeared to over-deliver.

“He’s a high quality one who attracted high quality folks to work with him.”

“Brian has taken our county parks system and made it, I imagine, the most effective within the state,” stated Commissioner Will Tucker, who has served because the board’s liaison to the parks for a number of years. “He’s an amazing, super, super accomplice, ally, and pal.”

He added that Carroll “calmly tries to know either side,” and that his repute for reaching the division’s targets has usually assuaged considerations concerning his “new concepts.”

“His monitor report of delivering takes care of these fears,” Tucker stated. “His repute, his communication, it makes him one heck of a person. I simply love him.”

Arriving in 1997. File picture

Escaping New York

Carroll, 60, got here to Linn County from Whitman County, in jap Washington, the place he’d gone to work after graduating in 1986 from the College of Idaho with a level in wildland recreation administration.

He was drawn to the Linn County place as a result of he and his spouse Linda needed to remain within the Northwest.

Born and raised on Staten Island in New York Metropolis, Carroll stated he fell in love with the outside when his dad continuously took him tenting and backpacking within the Catskill Mountains in New York State.

“I developed a love of the outside and met a number of rangers there and simply thought that was a cool job and that’s form of what bought me going for that,” he recalled. “I believed that will be an awesome profession after which I all the time needed to return out west and see see the West. I form of needed to flee New York.”

After briefly attending Michigan Technological College in Houghton, he moved on to Idaho.

“That was an awesome expertise,” Carroll stated. “With that, I simply fell in love with the Pacific Northwest.”

He put himself via faculty, so he spent his summers and took some breaks to work for the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Military Corps of Engineers “throughout the nation,” significantly in Nevada and Wyoming, he stated. “However I might by no means wait to get again to the Northwest.”

After 9 years in Whitman County, Wash., because the parks and recreation coordinator, Carroll needed to maneuver on and up, he stated. His spouse Linda was an Idaho native, they usually determined “it was necessary to us to remain within the Northwest,” so when the Linn County directorship grew to become out there with the retirement of longtime director Dyrol “Burley” Burleson, he utilized.

“Brian took the baton from Burley and ran with it,” recalled Paul, who has labored in Linn County journalism since 1985. “He had huge sneakers to fill 25 years in the past, and he has had exceptional success.”

Carroll took over a division that was largely the creation of Burleson and Ozzie Shaw of Candy Dwelling, who was broadly thought-about “the daddy of the county parks system” and served on the Parks Fee, which he helped co-found, for some 55 years.

“I had set a purpose for myself that I needed to be the director of a small- to mid-sized parks and recreation division,” Carroll stated.

Brian Carroll stands above Inexperienced Peter Lake, the place the county has drastically expanded tenting services and alternatives. File picture

Twenty-5 Years of Progress

The division’s development had seen a lull when he took over, Carroll stated, and “it was simply beginning to develop once more.”

“They noticed loads of development within the ’60s and ’70s after which within the mid-’80s the entire timber disaster occurred and the county had a roll-back.”

Shaw and Burlison had put collectively a plan to make the division “extra self-supporting,” he stated, and when he arrived in 1997, “my job was to maintain that practice heading in that path.”

“And we had been ready to try this.”

Underneath his management, the county workers constructed a completely new 85-site, 90-acre campground at River Bend in Cascadia, which opened within the fall of 2005 and quickly grew to become one of the vital widespread within the county. Additionally they practically doubled the variety of campsites on the 328-acre Whitcomb Creek Park, positioned on a peninsula on the northeast finish of Inexperienced Peter Lake, to 85 websites.

Carroll additionally was a key participant in Linn County’s acquisition, in 2007, of Clear Lake Resort, from the Santiam Fish and Recreation Affiliation, which had constructed and operated the resort for 80 years, and Edgewater Marina and RV Park on Foster Lake, in 2014.

Final September the Oregon State Parks formally turned possession of Cascadia Park over to Linn County, which had managed the power since 2019.

The county has added a number of smaller services: Calkins Boat Ramp on the east finish of Foster Lake in 2008, the Bilyeu Den Wayside in Scio, and a number of yurt installations and everlasting cabins at numerous campgrounds, and boat-in tenting services on the north shore of Inexperienced Peter Lake.

Its park choices now vary from rustic tent tenting to very large, multi-family RV areas. Almost all of the work has been achieved, or a minimum of supervised, by county parks workers.

On the Moyer Home, Carroll and his workers have instituted shows that spotlight Linn County’s first black settlers, and its cattle and sheep agricultural industries, Tucker famous.

“The Moyer Home is absolutely good historical past.”

Linn County’s parks function with out cash from the Basic Fund; funding comes from reservations, grants, the Transient Lodging tax and RV and boat charges.

Carroll accepts a nationwide award from the U.S. Military Corps of Engineers in 2014. File picture

Efforts Have Turned Heads

Many have seen that success.

Through the ceremony final fall marking the switch of Cascadia State Park to county possession, State Parks Director Lisa Sumption, on the Cascadia Park dedication, acknowledged in entrance of the viewers, “Brian, you do have the most effective county parks system,” including that “you set the bar actually excessive for the state and the county.”

Moran stated Carroll, whereas a authorities official, has develop into an integral a part of the enterprise group.

“He’s actually been an awesome advocate for outside recreation within the county, however I take into account him a enterprise chief too. He’s actually labored exhausting to attempt to make remaining parks up to date, holding them in actually actually fine condition. He’s stayed inside finances. The Parks Division is fairly self-sufficient due to the income streams we’ve. That’s large.”

Plus, Moran added, Carroll has been very attentive to the wants of the native enterprise group.

“For many us non-public timberland homeowners, he’s very, very all in favour of listening to our considerations when there’s parks to develop close to timberlands,” Moran stated.

Nyquist echoed that: “He’s had nice imaginative and prescient and he’s actually been in a position to join the funding dots, creating funding streams to enhance the parks system and get issues achieved with out counting on county basic fund cash. Over time that has sustained him nicely.”

Tucker stated the Parks Division contributes considerably to the native economies.

“Brian has dramatically elevated the quantity of people that come to Linn County to camp and fish,” he stated. “All which means extra jobs, extra folks coming to city to purchase gear, meals. These is probably not the big-paying jobs, however these are good folks coming to city, shifting via largely as a result of Brian has constructed that group the way in which he has.”

Staff Effort

A serious contributor to the division’s success, Carroll stated, has been the workers, which has grown from 9 full-timers when he arrived to 13, plus seasonal and part-time workers that always quantity round 50 throughout the summer time months.

When he arrived, Carroll stated, “I had a few actually good companions in Richard Frick and Cheryl Johnston.”

Frick, of Candy Dwelling, was operations supervisor, and Johnston was the workplace supervisor. The opposite parks staffer who has continued all through Carroll’s tenure is John Hefty, additionally of Candy Dwelling.

What was key, Carroll stated, was that the workers fully purchased into the purpose of being self-supporting, which grew to become a actuality in 2011.

Carroll stated he and the workers figured “that we had been accountable for our personal future if, as a division, we might implement this mannequin and make it work. I feel we’ve been profitable. We nonetheless have our ups and downs, undoubtedly, however I’m happy with the work that we’ve achieved.”

The COVID-19 pandemic was a kind of down occasions.

“When COVID hit we had been proper on the finish of our fiscal 12 months, and the state shut us down for a few months. Though we recovered much better than I believed we might, the following 12 months was phenomenal. That put us again on monitor, which has been useful.”

He stated county commissioners have been supportive, offering the division with funding from the county’s transient lodging tax “and that form of factor” when wanted.

“I do imagine the division is within the place to do some actually fantastic issues,” Carroll stated.

Brian Carroll speaks throughout the official hand-over of Cascadia State Park to Linn County final summer time. File picture

Belief and Cooperation

One other issue, he stated, has been the division’s potential to work with different companies – the U.S. Forest Service, the state, the Corps of Engineers.

The county’s administration of the USFS campgrounds alongside Freeway 20 east of Candy Dwelling, which started in 2010, “set the muse for among the different issues that we’ve achieved with different companies and opened our eyes to what we might do with partnerships,” Carroll stated. “That’s one thing that I feel has been a serious focus throughout my time right here.”

In 2014 the county was honored with a USACE Excellence in Partnership Award in recognition of the companies’ longtime cooperation within the administration of native parks and leisure services.

The county division operates two campgrounds along side the Corps, Sunnyside and Whitcomb Creek at Foster and Inexperienced Peter reservoirs, together with Lewis Creek Park on Foster and 5 boat launch services between the 2 lakes, and rustic tenting at Inexperienced Peter.

The county has constructed a robust relationship with Corps officers, significantly Erik Petersen, supervisor of the Willamette Valley Mission, which incorporates each native reservoirs.

“He’s achieved a stellar job,” Carroll stated of Petersen. “That’s enabled us to work much more carefully with the Corps and construct what we’ve constructed over the previous 15 years. They’ve given us the flexibility to develop and enhance the services which are right here and have actually been an excellent accomplice.”

Moran stated an instance of that’s the improvement of boat-in tenting services alongside the shores of Inexperienced Peter.

Carroll, he stated, “has been in a position to bridge a few of these gaps with the federal companies. He’s been in a position to do actually good with that.”

Tucker famous that the Corps award was nationwide: “Of all of the counties and cities within the U.S., we had been the one awarded. It actually wasn’t the Board of Commissioners. It was Brian Carroll and the staff he has put collectively. ”

The county parks workers was additionally acknowledged in 2001 by the state Marine Board because the Finest Upkeep Workers within the state. Carroll famous at the moment that his crew’s ability was famous all through the state.

“After I go to get grant cash for a challenge, the companies know the standard work these guys do they usually love offering a grant for us as a result of their cash will go a lot additional,” he instructed The New Period.

At the moment, he stated, Linn County might assemble a brand new campsite for about $6,000, whereas the state’s price for the same challenge could be $26,000 per web site.

Tucker stated that though different counties, akin to Jackson County, have high quality parks, “what Brian has completed personally, Jackson County has an entire bunch of sources – an amphitheater, a drag strip, these sorts of issues.”

“Brian has constructed relationships and he’s constructed a self-sustaining division. That’s uncommon. Most of these counties are nonetheless placing cash into their park techniques. We don’t should.”

Paul, who began producing an annual parks information for the county throughout his years as writer at The New Period, stated, “It has been an honor to work with Brian, first as The New Period writer and for the final two years as Linn County communications officer. He’s a first-class man and Linn County has drastically benefited from his abilities.”

Carroll factors out highlights on a map of a proposed group forest hall in 2013. File picture

Assist from Superiors

One other contributor to the division’s success, Carroll stated in a latest interview, has been the Board of Commissioners’ assist.

“They gave us the liberty to do what we would have liked to do,” he stated. “That’s not with out oversight; they’re very conscious of the plans that we’re engaged on. However they didn’t micromanage. They allowed us to do our factor, what we thought we would have liked to do.

“We’ve made some errors alongside the way in which, however general, I feel that I feel they acknowledge that, you recognize, what we had been making an attempt to do was the path that they requested us to go.”

Nyquist recalled how, when the county was negotiating with the longtime volunteers of the Santiam Fish and Recreation Affiliation to accumulate the working rights to Clear Lake, a “substantial” competing provide arose on the final minute.

“Brian was involved,” Nyquist stated, noting that Carroll was clearly careworn when he met with commissioners to debate the problem. “I stated, ‘Brian, simply add one other zero to your provide.’”

That sealed the deal, he recalled, including that Clear Lake has develop into one of many county’s most worthwhile enterprises.

“That’s simply his legacy.”

At a gathering of the Candy Dwelling Chamber of Commerce, Brian Carroll factors out deliberate enhancements to Inexperienced Peter Lake. File picture

New World in Outside

Tenting and open air actions, plus the calls for of the general public, have modified since he began, Carroll stated, citing the prevalence of every thing from high-priced powerboats to cheap kayaks and paddleboards, and mountain bikes. GPS gear has given folks the flexibility to extra simply go off the crushed tracks as nicely.

He stated county workers takes satisfaction in staying abreast of recent developments as they plan for the long run.

“After I grew up, and I feel for many of us of my my period, it was you went tenting to get away from all of it. Now you go tenting and you’re taking all of it with you. Persons are going for an expertise they usually’re going for actions. Again then, you recognize, we used to go simply to chill out. Boy, there’s so many toys and alternatives to benefit from the open air now that weren’t there.”

The COVID-19 pandemic truly escalated the general public’s curiosity within the open air, he stated.

“It bought folks outdoors and I feel it additionally allowed folks to appreciate that every one these actions they watch different folks doing, they will truly take part in. I feel these are all form of thrilling issues, going ahead.”

Getting Outside

Carroll stated he appears ahead to spending extra time together with his household as he dials issues down within the workplace.

Carroll’s spouse Linda is Dean of Healthcare at Linn-Benton Group School since 2015. They’ve three grownup daughters, together with similar twins.

“The good factor is, even at work I get to benefit from the open air, however I’m wanting ahead to spending extra time mountain climbing and biking. I’ve had an awesome profession. It’s been pleasurable, however the one impression is that my summers have been tied up with work. I look ahead to having the ability to benefit from the open air extra.”

As he leaves, Carroll has instructed commissioners that he’s prepared to stay round and assist his successor stand up to hurry.

There’s nonetheless loads within the pipeline, he stated: a revamp of Lewis Creek Park, the expanded tenting services at Inexperienced Peter, and extra.

“Numerous the infrastructure is 50 years previous, particularly in east Linn County,” he stated. “I’d like to see among the plans that we’ve put into place happen over time however I look ahead to additionally seeing the way it modifications.”

He stated he’s wanting ahead to seeing recent management and the way that impacts the division.

“I hope that whoever takes over acknowledges the chance that they’ve right here and that they do have an awesome Board of County Commissioners and workers to work with,” he stated. “In the event that they benefit from the alternatives positioned in entrance of them, I feel they will take this to the following stage.”

“We’ll miss him,” Tucker stated.


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