Smith Rock's Park Manager Decides to Move South


May 24, 2019

Park Manager Scott Brown is moving south—to La Pine State Park, that is. After 9 years at Smith Rock, Brown has seen an exponential rise in visitation, doubling since he’s been here to close to 900,000 people per year. He’s been at the confluence of competing groups of park users along with area residents as they hammer out a new Master Plan to address that growth since the last plan from 20 years ago. But that’s not why he’s chosen to leave.

Smith Rock State Park Manager Scott Brown in his first days at the park

Smith Rock State Park Manager Scott Brown in his first days at the park

Brown acknowledges the challenges that come with growth to such a unique area, and will truly miss the natural beauty, wildlife, and adventure sports that brought him to Smith Rock initially. He actually plans to keep a toe in the Master Plan process to help his successor get up to speed and be a resource as needed to the park. He’s simply looking to simplify his life on his new homestead in La Pine with a smaller park nearby to manage.

La Pine State Park is also familiar turf for Brown. After coming to Oregon from Alaska, where he worked with Alaska State Troopers in Wildlife Conservation Operations, Brown worked in La Pine as the park’s Interpretative Ranger before moving to Klamath Falls’ Collier State Park, and then Tumalo State Park prior to coming to Smith Rock. When management changes opened up La Pine to Brown, it was perfect timing to completing the circle where he had chosen to build a home.

While he admits that the trauma surrounding accidents to both climbers and hikers alike weigh heavily on him, he prefers to focus on his achievements. His favorite is the Welcome Center yurt (featured in our header image) where visitors can get educated on everything from flora and fauna in the park, to geology and ecology, and even what the climbers are all about.

When asked what he will miss the most, Brown didn’t hesitate—’the crew.” And by “crew” he means his “talented and emotionally intelligent staff,“ as well as the volunteers and neighbors that have been supportive of him and give so much to the park.

From left to right, Park Manager Scott Brown, Ranger Josie Barnum, Ranger Nolan Ferdinand, and Park Ranger Assistant Patrick Tinsley at this year’s Smith Rock Spring Thing volunteer day.

From left to right, Park Manager Scott Brown, Ranger Josie Barnum, Ranger Nolan Ferdinand, and Park Ranger Assistant Patrick Tinsley at this year’s Smith Rock Spring Thing volunteer day.

His best memory is of a perfect spring day when he and Ranger Josie Barnum were watching this scene unfold one day at the green space by the Welcome Center:

David Vick, the Park Naturalist was giving a presentation to the painters and other visitors after the Smith Rock Paintout on the wildlife, geology, and cultural history of the park. The combination of art, kids, climbers, and more was so moving. This is what Smith Rock is all about.
— Smith Rock State Park Manager Scott Brown
Former Smith Rock State Park Naturalist David Vick talks geology with a couple of painters here to enjoy the annual Smith Rock Paint Out.

Former Smith Rock State Park Naturalist David Vick talks geology with a couple of painters here to enjoy the annual Smith Rock Paint Out.

While final interviews are being held at the time of this publication, the name of the new park manager for Smith Rock most likely won’t be revealed until sometime in mid-June.

When asked what he hopes of the new management, Brown stressed balancing the needs and desires of people and the natural resources of Smith Rock. Adding, “If you don’t preserve the wildness it changes the experience of what visitors come here for.” We couldn’t agree more. Best of luck to you Scott Brown!