Grady Spann, director of Arkansas State Parks, has been named president of the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD).
Spann is a 27-year employee of Arkansas State Parks, having served as its director since 2016. He becomes the third Arkansas parks director to assume the mantle of the national organization, with predecessors Richard Davies and Greg Butts also having served in the role.
“Being president of NASPD at this time, when so many people are discovering state parks, is truly inspiring,” Spann said. “Millions of guests visit our nation’s state parks every day for outdoor recreation experiences that impact their quality of life. Additionally, I look forward to using my national platform to highlight Arkansas State Parks so that more people can discover why Arkansas is The Natural State.”
NASPD is made up of state park directors in all 50 states. There are more than 10,200 state parks covering more than 18.5 million acres. More than 740 million people visit America’s state parks on an annual basis, creating an annual economic impact to local communities of greater than $20 billion.
Spann called the recent enactment of the Great American Outdoors Act a watershed achievement for outdoor recreation. The new law will provide $9.5 billion in additional funding for national parks, wildlife refuges and forests, and will also benefit state parks around the country.
“The Great American Outdoors Act is the most significant commitment in more than a century to protecting our nation’s most important natural, cultural and recreational resources for the benefit of this and future generations,” said Spann.
Spann graduated from Henderson State University with a degree in parks administration. He also served nine years in the U.S. Army as a military tactical intelligence and counterintelligence officer.
“Grady’s expert management of our 52 states parks has made them a destination for visitors from across the nation,” said Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. “We are very proud to see Grady step into this new role. He is a genuine servant leader, and state park systems across the country will benefit from his passion and expertise.”