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Department of Natural Resources names new Missouri State Parks Director

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, JAN. 31, 2020 – The Missouri Department of Natural Resources today named Mike Sutherland as director of its Division of State Parks.

Sutherland has served as acting division director since Nov. 15, when former Division Director Ben Ellis retired. Prior to that, Sutherland served as deputy division director since joining the department in June 2017.

Before joining the Department of Natural Resources, Sutherland served as policy director for a nonprofit organization focused on budget and tax policy. His additional previous experiences include serving as the executive director of the Boonslick Regional Planning Commission, a state representative and the Warren County assessor.

Sutherland is a longtime supporter of Missouri’s state park system and outdoor recreation. In addition to serving on the Missouri Parks Association board and the Missouri State Parks Foundation, he is an avid cyclist and has worked as a salesman and mechanic for Red Wheel Bike Shop.

"Mike brings a great deal of leadership and experience to his new role," said Department Director Carol Comer. "His knowledge and familiarity with both state government and the outdoors made him an excellent candidate for this role. We’re looking forward to Mike helping us continue to build relationships as we move into the future."

Missouri’s 91 state parks and historic sites are administered by the department’s Division of State Parks. The mission of the state park system is to preserve and interpret the state’s most outstanding natural landscapes and cultural landmarks, and to provide outstanding recreational opportunities compatible with those resources.

"I’m honored to be asked to lead our team of hardworking individuals who believe in and support our mission," said Sutherland. "I’m looking forward to an exciting future as I guide the Missouri State Parks team.  It takes all of us, together as one team, to make progress toward stewardship, provide excellent service, and make sure we are always doing our part to keep our team and our guests safe. By working together with a positive outlook, no challenge will be too great."

Sutherland earned a Master of Public Affairs from the University of Missouri – Columbia and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Central Missouri. He is also a Six Sigma Lean Green Belt in Government and has completed Fire Management Level 1 training.

A native of Warrenton who now lives in Jefferson City, Sutherland is an outdoor enthusiast who enjoys hiking, biking and kayaking. His adventures include a 50k ultramarathon, the Missouri River 340, hiking the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim in one day, biking the OT100 mountain bike race and competing in the Ironman World Triathlon Championships in Kona, HI.

Learn more about Missouri’s State Parks and Historic Sites at



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