Bob Downing

Stanley Austin is leaving the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

The 54-year-old Austin was selected Thursday to head the National Park Service’s southeast region in Atlanta. He will be one of seven regional directors and oversee 68 park units.

Such job opening are rare and something special, Austin said.

He is scheduled to begin in Atlanta on July 17.

It is not known who will replace him in the Cuyahoga Valley park, officials said.

“Bittersweet” was Austin’s reaction to leaving the Cuyahoga Valley park where he has been superintendent since 2010.

He said he feels that he has played a role in completing a long-range trail management plan and worked on developing a new visitor center at Boston Mills and in managing white-tailed deer.

“I feel that I have built a solid foundation that the next superintendent can complete,” he said.

Austin said he also worked to make the 33,000-acre park between Akron and Cleveland better known and more visible.

He has also worked to diversify the visitors to the park, he said.

Most park superintendents generally last three to five years at a post, he said.

He was the park’s fourth superintendent.

Before coming to Northeast Ohio, Austin was superintendent of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and Rainbow Bridge National Monument in Arizona. He also served as acting deputy superintendent of Yosemite National Park in California, a temporary post he has held for a number of months.

Austin replaced John Debo Jr., who retired from the Cuyahoga Valley park in 2009. Debo joined the Cuyahoga Valley National Park Association as its chief fundraiser.

Austin started his career with the National Park Service in 1978 at Gateway National Recreation Area in New York and New Jersey. He worked in interpretation, resource management and law enforcement.

In 1984, he joined the EPA, working in water protection in Washington, D.C.

He rejoined the park service in 2003 and was assigned to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado as deputy superintendent. In June 2008, Austin became superintendent of Glen Canyon.

Austin is divorced and has two children.

Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or