New Superintendent Announced for Gulf Islands National Seashore 

Posted on June 1, 2021 by Staff reports

Darrell Echols will represent the Gulf Islands National Seashore as the new superintendent beginning July 18, 2021. Created in 1971, the nation’s largest seashore stretches 160 miles along the northern coast of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida and Mississippi, and includes barrier islands, maritime forests, historic forts, bayous, and marine habitat. This year is the park’s 50th anniversary. (NPS/Wade)

 The National Park Service (NPS) today announced Darrell Echols as the new superintendent of Gulf Islands National Seashore, effective July 18.  

“Darrell is a dynamic leader with Gulf Coast roots and essential experience protecting some of the country’s most beloved coastal areas,” said NPS South Atlantic-Gulf Regional Director Stan Austin. “He’s led high-performing teams, overseen regional climate change adaptation strategies, guided parks through hurricane preparedness and recovery, and exceled at integrating natural and cultural heritage preservation and tourism. This selection marks a collective win for the park, its stakeholders and visitors.” 

Gulf Islands National Seashore is the nation’s largest seashore. Created in 1971, the national park protects 160 miles from Cat Island, Mississippi, to the Okaloosa Area east of Fort Walton Beach, Florida.  

“I’ve had the honor of serving as acting superintendent of Gulf Islands National Seashore for the last three months,” said Echols. “I’ve taken every opportunity to help build trust with park staff, partners and the community and to be the kind of advocate this park deserves. I look forward to building on the great foundation set long ago and advancing a shared new vision for the future of this park and its treasured resources.” 

 Echols began his federal career in 1989 working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Corpus Christi, Texas studying seagrasses. In 1990, he transferred to the NPS where he spent 18 years working for the resource management division at Padre Island National Seashore. While there, Echols managed multifaceted projects involving shorebirds, marine mammals, sea turtles, marine debris, wetlands, wildland fire, and oil and gas development. 

In 2008, Echols became deputy superintendent of the Outer Banks Group in North Carolina, consisting of Cape Hatteras National Seashore, Wright Brothers National Memorial and Fort Raleigh National Historic Site. 

 There, he led park operations, issues management, partnership development and resources management. Since 2014, Echols has served as regional chief of science and natural resources management for the NPS South-Atlantic Gulf region, based in Atlanta. In this role, he and his team have provided scientific expertise, technical assistance, and policy guidance to 74 parks in a footprint spanning nine states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

During his tenure with the regional office, Echols has also served as an acting deputy regional director, acting superintendent of Virgin Islands National Park, and as program manager for the region’s COVID-19 pandemic response.  

 A native of Sinton, Texas, Echols holds a Bachelor of Science degree in marine biology from Texas A&M University- Corpus Christi. 

Echols is married to his best friend and wife of 23 years, Nancy. They have a daughter studying biology at the University of North Georgia and a son entering Georgia’s Kennesaw State University as an engineering major. Echols and his wife enjoy fishing, surfing, gardening, and traveling.