Shawn Benge has been appointed acting superintendent for Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks effective today.
Benge will be on a 90-day assignment to fill the position held by Superintendent Dan Kimball, who is retiring after 10 years.
Benge has 26 years of experience with the National Park Service and comes to South Florida from Atlanta, where he is the deputy regional director responsible for operations and providing leadership to the Gulf Coast cluster of national parks. Benge was the primary official responsible for managing the park service's response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, states a park service press release that was distributed Friday.
A native of Seymour, Texas, Benge graduated from Texas Tech University with a degree in landscape architecture. He began his career with the NPS as a landscape architect at Big Bend National Park in Texas. In 1991 he became a project supervisor at the park service's Denver Service Center, its main park planning, design and development facility.
Benge later became a park planner/landscape architect for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and, in 2000, was promoted to deputy chief of facility management. In 2002, he was promoted to facility manager for the park.
While at the "Great Smokies" Benge managed a workforce of more than 100 people who maintain the park's roads, trails, historic properties and visitor facilities. He also managed planning and decision-making processes, according to a press release issued Friday by the National Park Service, which states that Benge will be acting superintendent of both parks from today until June.
"It's both a great honor and tremendous responsibility to be acting superintendent of two very different and important national parks in the southeast region. Each of these parks have significant natural and cultural resources," Benge said. "I'm looking forward to working with the parks' dedicated staff, our many supporters, park neighbors and partner organizations to further public appreciation and long-term preservation of these special places."