MILLINOCKET, Maine (WABI) - After a national search and application process, Baxter State Park has a new director, who is no stranger to the Katahdin area.
"Maine is a wonderful place to be," explained new director, Eben Sypitkowski. "The quality of life better here than anywhere I have experienced. This is home and especially up in the woods in this area."
Back in December, Jenson Bissell stepped down from his post as Baxter Park Director.
Bissell spent over thirty years working in the park, twelve of them as director.
"Such a rare opportunity to have something like this to preserve and protect," said Bissell in an interview back in December 2017.
After an extensive search, the Baxter State Park Authority has a new leader, and they did not have to look too far.
Eben Sypitkowski is no stranger to the Park, spending the last four years serving as Resource Manager.
He says he's driven to continue Bissell's work.
"While I know I will never be able to fill his shoes, I am excited to kind of take the baton and keep running."
He says he's also dedicated to maintaining the vision former Governor Baxter had when he donated the first parcel of land to the state back in 1931.
"Baxter was a visionary in the sense of what wilderness could be, especially in the 1920's when this idea was really taking shape and to put together such an incredible gift with such an incredible mandate is unique as far as I know in the world, and it's really a pleasure to be a part of that," said Sypitkowski.
Sypitkowski is a Bangor High School grad and earned a Master's Degree in Forestry from the University of Maine. He and his wife reside in Millinocket.
"There are some great opportunities to sort of tie the park and the community together, and I see great opportunities happening in Millinocket. I'm very excited to see this place develop."
In his new role, Sypitkowski will lead about two dozen year-round and 39 seasonal employees that are responsible for protecting, maintaining, and operating the Park.
With peak season in full swing, he hopes park visitors truly understand the gift it is to the area.
"We don't have sort of have a national park model of loop roads and commissions," said Sypitkowski. "This is a place to turn off your cell phone and sort of let your relationship with nature be contemplative and not structured by commercial interests. So, this is a place to step out of our connected world, and reconnect with yourself and nature."