Mark River, the county’s outgoing conservation director, snapped this shot in Utah’s High Uintas Wilderness Area of himself with a brook trout he caught on a days-long solo backpacking trip in 2011.
Mark River, the county’s outgoing conservation director, snapped this shot in Utah’s High Uintas Wilderness Area of himself with a brook trout he caught on a days-long solo backpacking trip in 2011.
June 28, 2013



It takes only a moment to glimpse Mark River's legacy as director of conservation for Carroll County.

Walk to him.

Put out a hand.

And watch his eyes and lips pull to curved slits as he smiles and shakes your grip.

It's the same every time.

His welcoming, even-keeled temperament has marked his nine years at the helm of the county's conservation department, in which he's overseen big projects like construction of the education center at Swan Lake State Park and paving a vast stretch of the Sauk Rail Trail.

The county has acquired about 500 acres of public land, built an enviable gun and bow shooting range on the west side of Carroll and extended its educational programs for kids and adults during River's tenure.

Through it all, it was River's smile and ability to diffuse testy situations and bring different types of people together for a common cause that made so much progress possible, he and conservation board members agree.

But today is his last in Carroll.

This weekend he leaves for Duke University in North Carolina, where he will seek a doctorate in ecology over the next five years with an emphasis on water quality.

"In our lifetime, there's going to be some major issues, some major water shortages, some contamination issues," River said this week. "I'm passionate about that, to learn more about it, to teach other people about it."