Arkansas First Gentleman Bryan Sanders will lead a new council to encourage outdoor recreation and tourism within the state, Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced Tuesday.
The governor signed an executive order establishing the Natural State Initiative and the Natural State Advisory Council, which Bryan Sanders will chair. Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the effort would be part of a priority for her administration to boost the state’s many busy parks, rivers and hunting grounds to boost tourism and public health.
The Republican governor said the advisory board will work to give the state “a better blueprint” for promoting outdoor recreation. She has not yet appointed the other members who will form the council.
The advisory board will work with the Department of Commerce, Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, Department of Treasury and Administration and the Governor’s human resources development team to promote outdoor recreation, according to the order signed Tuesday.
Bryan Sanders’ position on the Natural State Advisory Council will remain unpaid.
“He brings a passion and energy to this space that is second to none,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “No one will do more to make this a success.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders said she will be the state’s “head seller,” borrowing from Arkansas’ “Natural State” moniker to attract more tourists and make it a more attractive destination for people to work and live in.
To underscore some of the state’s underappreciated natural assets, Bryan Sanders recalled a fly-fishing trip he took to Montana, where his guide revealed to him that Arkansas — not the Treasure State — was anglers’ preferred destination for trout fishing .
“He paused and went on to lecture me that I could have saved a lot of time and money if I had just stayed at home,” said Bryan Sanders.
Bryan Sanders is a political strategist from Kansas City, according to a biography on the governor’s website.
The governor said her husband has a passion for the outdoors and often takes the family on outdoor trips around the natural state.
The first gentleman also said that the initiative is about promoting public health, saying that outdoor recreation can help increase the well-being of people, especially children.
“Getting kids outside is so important now — away from screens, away from social media — and outside is so important for their physical and mental health,” he said.
Last week, Sarah Huckabee Sanders reappointed Eric Jackson, senior vice president of Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort, and appointed Trey Berry, president of Southern Arkansas University, and Rebecca Lentz, an outdoorsman, to the Arkansas State Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission. The terms of all three appointments do not expire until January 2029.