DNREC's O'Mara to step down

Will lead National Wildlife Federation in Washington, D.C.
DNREC Secretary Collin O'Mara speaks in 2012 during a Center for the Inland Bays committee meeting. SOURCE FILE
May 1, 2014

After five years as the state's top environmentalist, Collin O'Mara is resigning to take the top post at the National Wildlife Federation.

In a May 1 press release, the National Wildlife Federation announced that O'Mara, secretary of Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, would take over as president and chief executive office of the organization July 7.

“For the past 5 years I have fallen in love with the remarkable natural resources across our state,” said O’Mara in a prepared statement. “I’m looking forward to promoting the common-sense solutions that we’ve advanced in Delaware across the nation to protect wildlife and fishery habitat, expand environmental education and address climate change.”

When O’Mara, 35, was appointed secretary in 2009, he was the youngest state cabinet official in the nation. Prior to his appointment, O’Mara served as the Clean Tech Strategist for San Jose, Calif.

Over the past several years, he has spearheaded a range of initiatives, including Delaware’s "No Child Left Inside" Children In Nature campaign, the First State Trails and Pathways Plan and the Delaware Bayshore Initiative. O'Mara championed efforts to improve Cape Region state parks including the soon-to-be completed Gordons Pond Trail in Cape Henlopen State Park, and the new camping facilities in Delaware Seashore State Park on the north and south side of Indian River Inlet.

Gov. Jack Markell thanked O'Mara for his work as secretary and wished him luck.

“Collin has earned our respect and gratitude for his service to our state, which has been marked by a tireless work ethic and commitment to improving our environment and the health of Delawareans,” Markell said in a press release. “Collin’s leadership has helped make Delaware a nationally recognized leader in energy and climate-change policies.”

Brenna Goggin of Delaware Nature Society, the National Wildlife Federation's Delaware affiliate, said the society is committed to fulfilling the vision O'Mara set forth five years ago: providing Delaware with clean water, sustainable energy resources and addressing climate change. She said the society will continue to work with O'Mara in his new job.

"We worked closely with him on the Clean Water Initiative, several renewable energy bills, land preservation and open space funding, a myriad of things," Goggin said.

In early March, the $800-million, O'Mara-backed initiative to clean the state's waterways was introduced, but has since gained little legislative support. The initiative, Clean Water for Delaware's Future, includes infrastructure improvements for wastewater, stormwater and drinking water projects throughout the state by instituting a clean water fee.

U.S. Sen.Tom Carper said O'Mara has been a tireless advocate for clean air, fresh water and protecting Delaware's beautiful qualities.

The wildlife federation has 360 staff working in 11 offices across the country and according to its 2012 annual report, revenue totaled $92 million. O'Mara will succeed Larry Schweiger, who is retiring May 2, 2014, after serving for 10 years as NWF’s president and CEO.

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