SALT LAKE CITY — Mike Styler, executive director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources, is retiring after more than 14 years of service with the department.
Styler, the agency’s longest serving executive director, will step down June 1. Deputy Director Darin Bird will serve as interim executive director.
“Mike’s leadership has been invaluable both to the Department of Natural Resources and to our state,” Gov. Gary Herbert said in a statement Friday. “I will greatly miss having him as part of my cabinet, and I wish him the very best.”
Under Styler’s leadership, the department launched the Watershed Restoration Initiative, a statewide effort to improve ecosystem health and biological diversity, water quality and yield, as well as sustainable uses of Utah watersheds. To date, nearly 2,000 projects and 1.6 million acres of land have been restored.
Among other accomplishments, Styler was instrumental in forming the Utah Water Task Force, the creation of the state’s water rights adjudication process, and in the signing of two hunter access agreements with the state’s School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration.
“My opportunities to serve took unanticipated paths, but it has been incredibly rewarding to work with Gov. Herbert, the good people of Utah and over 1,300 DNR employees that work so hard to meet the natural resource needs of our state,” Styler said in the statement.
“Utah faces a number of difficult opportunities moving forward with water, wildlife, recreation and fire particularly. DNR has amazing and dedicated people. They are up to the task of meeting those challenges.”
Styler served in the Utah House of Representatives before joining the department. In the Legislature he served as chairman of both the Legislative Water Task Force and Natural Resources Appropriations Committee. He also served as a member of the Executive Appropriations Committee and the Legislative Management Committee.
A farmer from Oasis, Millard County, he also served as a Millard County commissioner and an eighth-grade U.S. history teacher at Delta Middle School before being elected to the Legislature. He still farms 400 acres of irrigated land on his family farm.