LEWIS & CLARK STATE PARK Easy going, friendly and energetic on the job. That's the impression you get after spending just a few minutes with Lewis & Clark State Park Manager Greg Corcoran. His enthusiasm for helping people and appreciating nature is infectious.
"I wanted to serve people. That's my calling, but I also love nature. I thought I could combine all that with the state parks and it all came together," said Corcoran. "I was just fortunate enough to find an opening here. I feel like I've met my calling."
Corcoran previously worked in the food services industry but it was his nearly four years in the North Dakota Highway Patrol that taught him the rewards of helping people on a daily basis.
Kim Fundingsland/MDN •
Greg Corcoran, manager of Lewis & Clark State Park, enjoys a view of Lake Sakakawea. Corcoran began managing the park this year.
"I would recommend the Highway Patrol to anyone who wants to help humankind and preserve people," says Corcoran. "I did that and I loved it. It was a great opportunity to be an ambassador for the state, helping people and being a service to them."
Corcoran left the Patrol in order to return to Illinios and help care for his aging parents. By 2007 he said it was time to think about getting back to North Dakota. His search turned up an opening with North Dakota Parks and Recreation the manager's position at Lewis & Clark.
"I had an interview and fell in love with the organization," said Corcoran. "It's just run so superbly."
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Taking over operation of Lewis & Clark State Park was not without challenges. Visitation to the park had diminished considerably during 10 years of falling water levels on Lake Sakakawea. The main boat ramp and, eventually, a secondary ramp came out of the water. The marina floor filled in with volunteer cottonwoods and other unwanted growth. The park staff was reduced to little more than lonely caretaker status.
Without a full staff to care for the park, the underbrush began to spread throughout the camping area. It became nearly impossible to keep up with tree trimming and mowing. Grass and weeds began to creep into the fringes of asphault roadways. Improvements needed to infrastructure were put on hold until the water returned, park useage increased and a full staff returned.
Fortunately for Corcoran, rising water greeted him just as he accepted the job. For a year at least, the downhill slide the park had been experiencing has come to a halt. The water meant a return of campers and fishermen and recreationists. It also meant a main boat that is operational once again and several feet of water in the park's marina. New docks and slips are scheduled to be installed later this summer.
Corcoran says he'd like to take credit for all the changes, but that he was really just fortunate to arrive at his post at the right time.
"My other jobs led me to this. It's a fit. I can help people out and help preserve nature," said Corcoran.