Current acting director of the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation, Brian Strong has been named director by the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, department officials announced Monday.
Strong has been acting director since early 2023, taking on the role after the previous director, Dwayne Patterson, retired. Strong has been a member of the state parks staff since 2000, most recently as deputy director and chief of planning and natural resources.
“I’m incredibly excited to be named director and humbled by the opportunity to serve North Carolina residents and our visitors,” Strong said. “The division has provided me an incredible opportunity to fulfill my passion for providing amazing opportunities for outdoor recreation in the most treasured spaces in our state. I look forward to working with our talented and dedicated staff in this new role.”
North Carolina State Parks manages more than 258,000 acres of iconic landscape within North Carolina’s state parks, state recreation areas and state natural areas.
In his roles, Strong has managed the division’s State Trails Program and its major grants initiatives, including the state Parks and Recreation Trust Fund and the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund and Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership.
“Our state parks are an unparalleled resource that preserve North Carolina’s natural beauty for future generations while making our communities even better places to visit and call home,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement. “Brian Strong is a proven leader who has shown his commitment to making North Carolina’s state parks even stronger and I’m confident he will serve our state well.”
Strong holds a master’s in natural resources policy from Duke University and a bachelor’s in biology and geography from Wittenberg University.
“We are pleased to name Brian Strong as director of North Carolina State Parks,” said Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Reid Wilson. “His experience and leadership will serve the division well, and his commitment to the division’s mission of conservation, recreation and education will benefit the people of our state and visitors.”
In addition to administering the Parks and Recreation Trust Fund, including its local grants program, as well as a state trails program, the division administers the North Carolina Natural and Scenic Rivers and other programs with a mission of conservation, recreation and education. The state parks system welcomes nearly 20 million visitors annually.