Ike grad takes reins at Chapman State Park

The new manager at Chapman State Park is a familiar face.

When Chapman’s former manager Jim McCorkle left in February for Laurel Hill State Park in Somerset, Tyson Martin had applied for two other manager positions in the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources State Park System.

“This was my top choice,” Martin said.

Martin worked at the park in 2005 as environmental interpretive technician. He also grew up in Russell and graduated from Eisenhower High School. He received a bachelor of science degree in Park and Resource Management from Slippery Rock University.

From there, he moved on to environmental education specialist positions at King’s Gap State Park in Carlisle and Presque Isle State Park in Erie.

Martin then took a job in the private sector, still in outdoor recreation… but indoors. He became general manager of an indoor rock-climbing gym in Nashville, Tenn.

But the call of home was strong.

“My wife and I wanted to get closer to home,” he said.

The call of the state parks system was another pull. “I wanted to get back into state parks, which has always been a love of mine,” Martin said. “I found the manager trainee track and that’s what led me here. This was my top choice.”

“I’ve been very lucky to have been in the trainee series for a year,” he said. “I’m grateful to have my own park.”

“My main goal is to provide an excellent visitor experience to anyone that comes to the park,” he said.

The dam at Chapman is up for improvement in 2015. “We are not sure of the full scope of the impacts, but it involves repairs to the breast of the dam so obviously there can’t be water against the breast of the dam,” Martin said. “It’s a shallow lake, so drawing down any number of feet would be a large impact.”

The dam itself will not be the only target for improvement.

“We’re going to take that opportunity to do other work while we have that unique scenario,” Martin said.

He said the project will be a “short-term inconvenience” with a long-term gain to fish habitat. “We’re incorporating some improvements to the habitat while the lake is drawn down,” he said.

“I’ve heard people say Chapman is the best-kept secret in Warren County,” Martin said. “I want that secret to be shared with the citizens so they know it’s here, they know they’re welcome.”

“I’m excited to be here,” Martin said. “I’m looking forward to a great summer… the future… and working with the staff. We’ve got a great staff here.”