DNREC Secretary Collin O'Mara has announced he will be leaving his post in July to become president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.

DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara will leave his post in Delaware in July to become president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation.

O’Mara joined Gov. Jack Markell’s cabinet in 2009.

“Collin has earned our respect and gratitude for his service to our state, which has been marked by a tireless work ethic and commitment to improving our environment and the health of Delawareans,” Markell said. “When he moves on in July, he will leave a strong and capable team prepared to build on a legacy of remarkable improvements to the quality of life in our state, including huge reductions in air pollution and impressive upgrades in our ability to deal with major storms.

Sen. Tom Carper, (D-Del.) also lauded O’Mara’s work, saying the secretary has made Delaware a respected entity in environmental causes.

“Delaware’s loss is the nation’s gain as he continues his passion for protecting the environment at the National Wildlife Federation,” Carper said. “I wish him the best of luck and look forward to working with him in this new role.”

The announcement came only five hours after addressing the Walkable Bikeable Delaware Summit, where it was revealed Delaware has been named the No. 4 most bicycle-friendly state in the nation.

O’Mara had intended to break the news to DNREC employees via a 1:30 p.m. conference call, but word of his hiring was broadcast first on the NWF website following the organization’s Conservation Achievement Awards gala.

According to the site, O’Mara is scheduled to take over on July 7, although the secretary did not confirm that date in during his conference call.

O’Mara told those listening in that he’d thought long and hard about the job before deciding to take it.

The NWF’s work dovetails neatly with DNREC’s mission.

“The work that we’re doing is seen as a model in many ways I think they want to see replicated in other parts of the country,” O’Mara said.

He did give the NWF’s directors a few conditions, including that he not leave until the end of the current Delaware General Assembly session, where several DNREC initiatives are pending and that he be allowed to remain in Delaware.

“I’ve actually fallen in love with every inch of this state over the past five years,” he said. The greatest honor of his professional life has been working with the DNREC staff, O’Mara added.

“The talent in this agency is remarkable,” he said.

It will be up to Markell to nominate a replacement for O’Mara, a nomination that must be approved by the state Senate. Neither O’Mara nor Markell brought up the subject of a successor.