Mark Hudgens is the new Mt. San Jacinto State Park superintendent. He took over his new position in August of this year.
Having spent the last 14 years in the Perris district, Hudgens inherits a far larger state park to supervise with his move to the Mt. San Jacinto District. “Perris was roughly 8,800 acres and Mt. San Jacinto is 14,000 acres, almost all of it wilderness with no roads,” he noted. Mt. San Jacinto was constituted as a state park in 1927. The park encompasses a wide swath of the land within the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument. The summit of Mt. San Jacinto, at 10,834 feet is the second highest peak in Southern California.
“The issues here are so much different than at Perris. We have historic buildings and walls built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Those historical considerations change so much of what we can and can’t do. We have to follow specific guidelines regarding historical resources.”
Hudgens also noted the many acres of wilderness, through which hikers regularly pass and often get in trouble, also pose different challenges to his rangers and staff. State Park rangers often assist in rescues. “As superintendent I’m basically responsible for everything within the park – trails, maintenance, tree inspections, dead tree removal and public safety,” he said. “A lot of what we do falls in line with Forest Service responsibilities. With regard to public and fire safety, after the Labor Day weekend we closed down all fire rings within state park campgrounds. We also have a volunteer wilderness patrol that assists with search and rescue. We’re looking for additional volunteers to patrol the trails and be proactive. Volunteers must be strong enough to carry a 45 pound pack. CPR, first aid and EMT training are valuable skill sets for volunteers.”
Hudgens is happy to be in Idyllwild, although he commutes each day from his home in Yucaipa. He is an avid outdoorsman who hunts and fishes. “I do outdoor activities as much as I can,” he said.
Hudgens was born in Brea, in Orange County. He attended Humboldt State University in Arcata in Northern California. He graduated with a B.S. in fisheries biology. “They had a great resource program.” And it was at Humboldt State that Hudgens found his love for and devotion to the wilderness.
Prior to beginning work for the state park system in Perris, Hudgens worked for the city of Tracy in public works performing water testing.
“I’m very happy to be up here,” said Hudgens. “I’m looking forward to getting to know the community of Idyllwild better.”