Kane Webb, executive director of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, today announced Grady Spann as the next director for Arkansas State Parks. Spann will replace current director Greg Butts, who will retire Dec. 31, 2015, after 42 years with Arkansas State Parks, the last 25 of those as director.
“Grady Spann has a proven track record of accomplishment within the state parks department, most recently as the Region 5 supervisor over the lodge state park operations. In addition to his 23 years with state parks, Grady is a military veteran, a natural leader and an outstanding communicator. He inherits a parks system that is the envy of the nation, thanks in large part to his predecessor, Greg Butts, and mine, former ADPT executive director Richard Davies. I am confident that, under Grady’s direction, our parks system will continue to thrive, be innovative, and attract visitors from all over the world,” said Webb.
Spann brings more than two decades of experience with Arkansas State Parks, both in day-to-day operations and in executive leadership roles. He currently serves as Region 5 supervisor, a position he has held since 2012. He was previously the superintendent of the Ozark Folk Center State Park from 2005 to 2012, of Historic Washington State Park from 2002 to 2005 and of Parkin Archeological State Park from 1993 to 2002.
“I look forward to this opportunity to lead Arkansas State Parks following the incredible career of Greg Butts. Our state park system is recognized across the nation as one of the best and I plan to build upon that reputation. We must effectively connect with and remain relevant to today’s park visitors, while also reaching the next generation. With the dedicated teams we have in our parks and administration, I have no doubt that we will continue to grow, building on the solid foundation that has been laid over the years,” said Spann.
A 1995 graduate of the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy, Spann is a certified law enforcement officer/park ranger. He holds a bachelor of science degree in parks administration, with a minor in military science from Henderson State University, and served as a military officer for nine years previous to his tenure with Arkansas State Parks.
“It’s been my pleasure to work with Grady since 1993, when I hired him as park superintendent at Parkin Archeological State Park. His experience as a park superintendent at Historic Washington and Ozark Folk Center State Parks, extensive training, and leadership experience with community organizations and partners has prepared him for his new role. He is a proven, successful results-oriented manager. He’ll do the right thing leading Arkansas State Parks,” said Butts.
The Arkansas State Parks director is responsible for leading the operation of 52 state parks and central office divisions including administration, planning and development, marketing and revenue, program services and five regional offices. Additionally, the director oversees the Outdoor Recreation Grants Program, which provides technical assistance and grants to Arkansas communities, along with a $126 million annual budget for all of the Arkansas State Parks division’s responsibilities.
Arkansas state parks and museums cover 54,353 acres of forest, wetlands, fish and wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation facilities and unique historic and cultural resources. The system includes 1,100 buildings (including 183 historic structures), six National Historic Landmarks, a National Natural Landmark and 16 sites on the National Register of Historic Places. The state parks have 1,771 camp sites, 1,050 picnic sites, 208 cabins, four lodges, eight restaurants, ten marinas and 415 miles of trails. Eight million visitors annually come from all regions of the country. Park staffs provide over 42,000 education programs, activities and special events to more than 700,000 participants each year.
Established in 1927, Arkansas State Parks preserve special places for generations yet unborn, provide quality recreation and education opportunities, enhance the state’s economy through tourism, and provide leadership in resource conservation.
Spann will begin his duties Jan. 1, 2016.