Gov. Sarah Sanders signed an executive order Tuesday (Jan. 24) establishing the Natural States Initiative and the Natural States Initiative Advisory Council, and said her husband, Brian, will be volunteering lead the effort.
The commission will make recommendations to the governor on promoting outdoor recreation and the outdoor economy, the order said.
The first gentleman will chair the committee without pay, the order said. Governor Sanders will appoint the members of the committee, who will serve on a voluntary basis.
The committee will coordinate with the Arkansas Department of Commerce to promote the state’s outdoor recreation industry and consider the development of outdoor recreation opportunity areas near state parks.
It will also coordinate with the Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism to develop a plan to maintain and connect state park trails to the larger regional trail system, develop a marketing strategy to promote tourism and outdoor recreation, and create a framework to attract partners Improve the park.
It will also coordinate with the governor to develop workers ready for the outdoor economy; help the state grow outdoor food, beverage and vendor services; and review the state’s tax and regulatory environment. It will submit an annual written report to the Governor.
Governor Sanders said the first gentleman was an outdoor enthusiast.
“No one gets me up more hills, down more trails, and down more water, figuratively and literally, than my husband, who loves all things outdoors, outdoor recreation, and especially It’s Arkansas, it’s all about enthusiasm,” she said.
Mr. Sanders said he once traveled to Montana and a fly-fishing guide asked him where he was from and told him he could have saved time and money by staying in Arkansas.
“I really, really believe ‘The Natural State’ is our unique selling point,” he said. “That’s what makes us different. But it’s more than that. It’s not just our difference. It’s a space where we can compete and win, and going forward that’s going to be a big priority for this government, and I feel for that. So excited.”
Mr Saunders said the outdoors kept children away from screens and social media, and had benefits for physical and mental health, quality of life, tourism, economic development and workforce development.
“One of the great things about this issue is that it’s not a partisan issue,” he said. “It’s not left or right, it’s not Democrat or Republican. I think it’s a good unifying issue for our state. I don’t know anyone who’s against expanding outdoor recreation or growing our outdoor economy. This It’s a win for everyone.”