SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Carter Smith was named executive director of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department on Dec. 5 at a special meeting of the TPW Commission in San Antonio. Smith will be leaving the helm at The Nature Conservancy of Texas to take the top job at TPWD.
“Carter Smith is a well-respected conservationist and has proven his ability to develop successful partnerships with landowners and others,” said TPW Commission Chairman Peter Holt. “He is a hunter and angler and a seventh generation Texas landowner. He understands the conservation challenges we face in our rapidly growing and changing state and will provide a fresh perspective as we strive to meet our mission.”
The Commission took action to accept the recommendation of the search committee in a public meeting after discussing the issue in executive session. The search committee consisted of TPW Commission Chairman Peter Holt, Chairman Emeritus Lee Bass, Vice Chairman Dan Friedkin, Commissioner Mark Bivins, and former Chairman Joseph Fitzsimons.
Smith has been with The Nature Conservancy of Texas since 1998 and has been the state director since 2004. Prior to his promotion to state director, Smith served as Director of Conservation Programs where he was responsible for conservation, external affairs and science programs. Before working at the Nature Conservancy, he was the first executive director of the Katy Prairie Conservancy and continues to serve on their Advisory Board.
Smith is a native of Central Texas and began his career in 1992 at the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department as a management intern, assisting in the Private Lands and Public Hunting programs. He has a wildlife management degree from Texas Tech and a master’s degree in conservation biology from Yale University.
Smith has served on numerous science, conservation, land trust and advisory councils. Besides the Katy Prairie Conservancy, he has served on the Texas Land Trust Council and advisory boards for Texas Tech, Texas A&M and Texas State University. Most recently, he served on TPWD’s State Parks Advisory Committee.
“I am deeply honored to accept this new challenge,” said Smith. “I was very fortunate to begin my professional career at Texas Parks and Wildlife, and have had much contact with the professionals at the agency through the years. I look forward to working with people I admire and respect to further TPWD’s conservation mission.”
Texas Parks and Wildlife is the state agency responsible for managing and conserving Texas’ natural and cultural resources. The agency has an annual budget of $405.8 million and a full-time equivalent staff of about 3,100 in 11 internal divisions: Wildlife, Coastal Fisheries, Inland Fisheries, Law Enforcement, State Parks, Infrastructure, Communications, Administrative Resources, Information Technology, Human Resources and Legal.
Smith will replace Robert L. Cook, who retired on August 31, 2007. Cook has been executive director since February 2002 and is serving as interim executive director until Smith takes the helm in late January.