SALT LAKE CITY — Fred Hayes, a long-time parks division employee and acting director for four months, will take the helm of the division on a permanent basis after being picked from a nationwide search that had nearly 100 applicants.
“We considered many excellent candidates,” said Mike Styler, executive director of the division's umbrella agency — the state Department of Natural Resources. “Fred was chosen because of his vision for the future of state parks in a market-driven world, and for his ability to inspire those he leads.”
Hayes, 52, takes over at a time when the division has been plagued by financial troubles brought to light in a legislative audit released in January 2011. At the time, auditors confronted lawmakers with the significant taxpayer-funded subsidies necessary to keep the division operating intact and said the public policy implications of continuing that practice needed to be considered.
Since then, state lawmakers have encouraged the division to think in terms of generating revenue like a business — and fees were raised for state-owned golf courses — some of the poorest performing venues. In recent years, the amount of funding that the division receives from the general fund has dropped from more than $12 million to $4 million in fiscal year 2013.
There are 43 parks in the system that include museums, golf courses, campgrounds, scenic areas, OHV areas and reservoirs. Hayes will oversee the $28.2 million budget for the parks and direct the planning process.
“This is truly an honor,” said Hayes who has worked in the division for most of the last 30 years. “We are excited for the public to come and rediscover state parks and to see how many things there are to do with their families."