Just 18 months after pledging to reform a troubled agency, retired U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Anthony Jackson, 64, announced plans to step down as head of the California Department of Parks and Recreation.
Jackson's retirement, effective June 30, caps 40 years of public service, all but four of which he served in the Marines, officials said in a prepared statement Wednesday.
"I sincerely appreciate General Jackson's service to California and the Department of Parks and Recreation," Natural Resources Secretary John Laird said. "He came to the department during its darkest hour, bringing stability and consistency. After almost 40 years of public service, he has more than earned the right to retire to private life."
Jackson's position came vacant after Ruth Coleman resigned amid revelations that her department stashed away $54 million in two special funds, even as it was planning to close 70 state parks to meet state budget cuts.
Several other staffers at parks headquarters were fired or reassigned following the discovery. After being appointed to the post by Gov. Jerry Brown in November 2012, Jackson said he planned to become a student of the organization "putting my own nose to the grindstone," he told a reporter.
He gave no indication at the time that his tenure would end so soon.
"I want to thank Gov. Brown and the dedicated group of professionals at State Parks for the opportunity to return to public service and help earn back the public's trust in one of California's most valuable assets," Jackson said in the statement Wednesday. "It has been a challenging, but ultimately fulfilling tenure at California State Parks."
PHOTO: Retired U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Anthony Jackson, right, takes the oath office as he is sworn-in as director of California State Parks by Resources Secretary John Laird, left, on Nov. 16, 2012. (Associated Press/Rich Pedroncelli)