James Adrian O’Neal, a 21-year veteran park ranger, park superintendent and district superintendent, has been promoted to chief of operations for the state parks system. He succeeds Mike Lambert, who resigned earlier this year to assume a similar position in Connecticut.
O’Neal will be responsible for park operations, resource management, environmental education programming, law enforcement, safety and facility maintenance for the state’s system of 36 state parks, four state recreation areas and 20 state natural areas, as well as other system units covering more than 218,000 acres.
“As a ranger and administrator, Adrian has demonstrated leadership and enthusiasm that reflects the commitment he has to the mission of North Carolina’s state parks,” said Michael Murphy, state parks director. “The state parks system and its field staff will rely on his experience and skills as it continues to develop conservation initiatives, innovative recreation opportunities and environmental education for our 14 million visitors each year.”
O’Neal is a native of Dunn and graduated from North Carolina State University in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in parks, recreation and tourism management. He began his career with the state parks system in 1993 as a ranger a Cliffs of the Neuse State Park and later served at Carolina Beach State Park.
In 2003, O’Neal was promoted to superintendent of Lake Waccamaw State Park, and in 2004, became east district superintendent responsible for operations at nine state parks in that region. He is a certified environmental educator and served in leadership roles in law enforcement training, the division awards program and interpretation and education programming.