It’s True: park manager gets promotion to regional slot
By Abigail Allen
After spending 20 years at the Ray Roberts Lake State Park, Complex Park Manager Chris True is getting a big promotion: regional director for the Northeast Texas region.
True will head Region 6, which contains 16 state parks, and his role will be to work with the superintendents and staff of those parks.
“One of the big goals of our agency is really establishing that connection between people and the natural resources out there,” True said. “As our state continues to grow and diversify, and more and more people are living in major metropolitan areas, they don’t have, necessarily, those opportunities that maybe back 20, 30 years ago that so many people had, being connected with the outdoors.”
The importance of getting outside has been highlighted in the last year by the COVID-19 pandemic, which drew individuals and families outside and to the state parks, True said.
“Nature is great for the soul, no matter what you’re dealing with,” he said. “A lot of studies have shown that it’s important from a mental standpoint, from a physical standpoint. People who spend time in the outdoors, it helps them.”
True wants to further the mission of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Service, which is about taking care of the state’s natural resources while simultaneously educating the public about those resources and also “ensuring that people have a place to get out and get away from the stress of life” through recreation.
“We always say to form those lasting family memories is what we’re all about,” True said.
The idea of leaving Ray Roberts is “a little bittersweet,” True said.
“Spending the last 20 years here at Ray Roberts has been such a blessing,” he added.
True’s grateful to know that the leaders of the park units—Mark Stewart for Isle du Bois, Daniel Rios for the Greenbelt and Greg Waller for Johnson Branch—will keep the park running well.
“We’ve had so many wonderful staff members as well as volunteers that have made Ray Roberts what it is today,” True said. “It’s tough to move on from those direct personal relationships with our volunteers and staff, but at the same time, I look forward to building those partnerships across northeast Texas and the opportunities that that will bring as well.”
He worked at two of the other parks in Region 6—Eisenhower State Park and Cedar Hill State Park—in the four and a half years before he came to Ray Roberts.
“It’ll be kind of like a homecoming for those two parks,” True said.
He’s excited, too, to work with the superintendents and staffs of each of the 16 state parks in his region.
“The region is well known for being a top producer of both talent as well as furthering the agency mission,” True said. “A lot of great parks and beautiful resources, so it’s exciting to be a part of that bigger picture.”
Part of that bigger picture is helping plan for “the future of Texas state parks.”
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will celebrate its centennial in 2023.
“I feel so blessed to be able to be a part of those great things—blessed to be a part of this agency for as long as I have, and really looking forward to the next several years of work with the region,” True said.