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National Lakeshore chief Costa Dillon announces retirement

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The successor to long-time superintendent of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Dale Engquist, has announced his retirement.

Costa Dillon will retire from federal service on August 26, after more than 35 years with the National Park Service (NPS), according to a statement released today.

Dillon began his career as a seasonal ranger at Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho and considers himself fortunate to have worked in the era of “generalist” rangers whose duties included law enforcement, emergency medical services, interpretation, and resource management.

Dillon recalls how “it was not unusual to spend one day on backcountry patrol, the next day giving school programs, and the following day collecting entrance fees in the morning and fixing fences in the afternoon.”

Dillon’s career also included work in the Washington headquarters of the National Park Service and in ten states from New York to California.

Dillon cites the following highlights from his six years as superintendent of Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore:

*Initiation of a new park sign system “that improves the visibility and awareness of the park.”

*Initiation of the West Beach and Mount Baldy restoration projects.

*Creation of The Nature in My Neighborhood program and Nature Play Zone.

*Creation of the Park Prescription program, the “first of its kind in the National Park System.”

*Construction and opening of Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk.

*Construction of the Porter Brickyard Trail, Great Marsh Trail, and Miller Woods Trail.

*Initiation of the Shoreline Restoration Plan: “a comprehensive plan to restore natural sand shoreline between Gary and Michigan City.”

*Completion and implementation of the park’s Deer Management Plan.

*Addition of six park properties to the National Register of Historic Places.

*Hosting the 2009 NPS/National Geographic Society BioBlitz.

*Designation of the Lake Michigan Water Trail National Recreation Trail.

*Selection of the National Lakeshore as the Urban Waters Initiative pilot for the Midwest.

*Establishment of the Dunes National Park Association.

Among the awards the park has received during Costa’s tenure are the following:

*Urban League of Northwest Indiana’s “Moving the Needle Award” for achievements in diversity, 2013.

*Department of the Interior Environmental Achievement Award, 2011.

*Northwest Indiana Paddlers Association Partner of the Year Award, 2011.

*Recognition by the Northwest Indiana Society of Innovators for Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk, 2011, and for Park Prescriptions, 2012.

*Department of the Interior Unit Award for Excellence of Service, 2010.

Dillon’s career includes assignments as Superintendent of Homestead National Monument of America, Nebraska; Superintendent of Fire Island National Seashore, New York; Superintendent of the Horace M. Albright Training Center, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona; and as a park ranger at Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho; Cabrillo National Monument, California; Independence National Historical Park, Pennsylvania; Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial, Pennsylvania; Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico; Gettysburg National Military Park, Pennsylvania; Eisenhower National Historic Site, Pennsylvania; Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site, Arizona; and Santa Monica Mountains, California.

“In 35 years, I’ve never been bored,” Dillon said. “In what other job could I have had the opportunity to work in the same place where Thomas Jefferson worked, collar caribou, arrest drug dealers, lead children’s education programs on the Gettysburg battlefield, live on the Navajo Reservation, raft the Grand Canyon, watch the New Year’s Eve 2000 fireworks from the Statue of Liberty, teach interpretation in Guam, drive a snowplow, rappel into caves, snorkel in Hawaii, design and write park exhibits, be an Emergency Medical Technician, fight wildfires, kayak in Lake Michigan, and ride horses?”

Costa’s awards include the Department of the Interior Meritorious Service Award and Superior Service Award, Secretary of the Interior’s Award for Long-Term Achievement in Diversity, the National Park Service Sequoia Award for Excellence in Interpretation, the National Association for Interpretation’s Meritorious Service Award, the National Parks Conservation Association’s Stephen Mather Award for Outstanding Resource Stewardship, four Department of the Interior Unit Citations for Excellence of Service, and President of his class at the Federal Law Enforcement Academy.

Posted 7/24/2013