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Governor names military leader to oversee parks

Gov. Jerry Brown appointed a retired Marine Corps general on Tuesday to oversee California parks in the wake of a scandal that uncovered $54 million kept hidden from the Legislature.

After 30 years in the military, Maj. General Anthony L. Jackson, 63, will take the job left vacant when the former director of the California Department of Parks and Recreation resigned last summer amid the financial scandal.

Jackson most recently commanded installations throughout the Southwest, overseeing fiscal, military, construction, energy and administration programs involving 13,000 employees and more than 60,000 Marines and sailors.

“Under Maj. General Jackson's leadership, I am confident that the stewardship of California's beaches, forests, estuaries, dunes and wetlands is in good hands and that the confidence and trust of Californians in our parks department will be restored,” Brown said in a news release.

Jackson did not immediately return a telephone message left at his home in the San Diego County community of Fallbrook, near Camp Pendleton.

His annual salary would be $150,112, and his appointment requires confirmation by the state Senate.

Former parks director Ruth Coleman resigned and a senior official was terminated when it was revealed that employees kept $54 million hidden from the Legislature in two separate funds for more than a decade, even as budget cuts threatened to close dozens of parks.

Californians helped raise millions of dollars to keep the parks open.

Before serving as a commanding general, Jackson oversaw the U.S. Africa Command from Stuttgart, Germany, from 2007 to 2009. He was deputy commanding general, U.S. Marine Forces, Central Command, from 2005 to 2007, and assistant chief of staff for the First Marine Expeditionary Force, which was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II from 2003 to 2005.

He also held posts in Japan, the Philippines and at Marine Corps headquarters throughout a career that began in 1975.

“He has direct experience protecting cultural resources on sensitive U.S. government land, directing environmental scientists, and integrating military and civilian personnel,” California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird said in a news release.

Gil Duran, a spokesman for Brown, did not immediately respond to a telephone message seeking further comment.

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