News & Events

Washington Parks Director Hoch to Retire in March

Nov 10, 2020

The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission announced that after a decade at the helm, State Parks Director Don Hoch will retire on March 2.

State Parks director to retire early next year

Nationwide recruitment effort underway

OLYMPIA – Nov. 10, 2020 – Today, the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission announced that after a decade at the helm, State Parks Director Don Hoch will retire on March 2.

The commission has begun the process of hiring a new director. The nationwide recruitment is underway, and prospective applicants can view the announcement here.

The Commission appointed Hoch director in 2010, after serving six years as the agency’s Puget Sound and Southwest regions director, respectively. His tenure began during the Great Recession, and he was instrumental in the agency’s transformation strategy and development of the Discover Pass. During this time, the agency went from relying mostly on general tax support to earned revenue to pay for the cost of operating the park system.

Since the beginning of Hoch’s appointment, sales of the Discover Pass grew 61%; overnight accommodations revenue increased 43%; and overall earned revenue increased 37%. The agency also purchased over 2,000 acres for existing and new parks, and stand-alone park properties at a cost of nearly $14 million; and secured management agreements for nearly 2,000 additional acres for recreation and conservation purposes.

Under Hoch’s leadership, the agency embarked on innovative projects and initiatives to expand and improve services including:

  • Fostering a ground-breaking agreement with the Nisqually Tribe to plan and develop Washington’s next full-service state park.
  • Obtaining approval for a long-term lease and development of a new lodge at St. Edward State Park.
  • Garnering Commission approval to expand the Mount Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park.
  • Securing the future of Washington’s long-distance trails and directed an investment of nearly $40 million to construct trailheads, deck trestles and resurfacing trails.
  • Launching a new reservation system to modernize the process and provide better service.

Hoch also relaunched the No Child Left Inside Program, awarding $3.8 million in funding to more than 80 programs to get youth outdoors. He also secured and directed $218 million in state capital funds and $12 million in state grants to develop and renovate state park facilities.

The National Recreation and Park Association named Washington State Parks a national Gold Medal Finalist for 2015/16 and again for 2017/18 – recognizing it as one of the top four park systems in the country. In 2017, the National Association of State Park Directors awarded Hoch with the Distinguished Service Award – its highest honor. Hoch was inducted into the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration in 2018.

Director Hoch has more than 40 years of parks and recreation experience at the municipal, county, state and federal level. That experience includes time with the Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites Division, Recreation department head in Bibb County Georgia, the National Park Service, United States Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and two municipalities in California.

He also has a bachelor’s degree in Recreation Administration from California State University, Chico, and an associate degree in Recreation from Fullerton College.

Hoch served on a variety of boards including the National Association of State Park Directors, Washington Recreation and Park Association, Georgia Recreation and Park Association, National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials, Georgia Hospitality and Travel Association, Georgia State Tourism Division Advisory Board, Washington Wildlife Recreation Coalition, Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, Washington State Parks Foundation and the Washington Recreation Conservation Funding Board.