Sanders Picks Mike Mills to Lead Department of Parks & Tourism


Sanders Picks Mike Mills to Lead Department of Parks & Tourism
Mike Mills, founder of the Buffalo Outdoor Center and member of the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame, has been picked to lead the state Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism (Michael Pirnique)

Gov.-elect Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced her intention to nominate Mike Mills of Ponca as secretary of the Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.

Mills, who has nearly 50 years of experience in the tourism industry, would replace Stacy Hurst, who was appointed head of the Department of Arkansas Heritage by outgoing Gov. Asa Hutchinson in January 2015. The agency became the Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism in 2019 when Hutchinson reorgnanized the state government.

Mills is the founder and owner of Buffalo Outdoor Center, the state's first log cabin resort. He has served for 40 years on the Tourism Development Foundation, 39 years on the Arkansas Travel Council, 28 years on the Board of America Outdoors Association, and 25 years on the Ozark Mountain Region Tourism Association.

More: Read our Executive Q&A with Mills from 2020.

Sanders called him "one of the premier outdoor recreation and tourism leaders not only in the state of Arkansas but across the country." He was a founding member of Arkansas Resorts and a charter member of Arkansas Scenic Highway 7 and Arkansas Scenic Rivers Commission.

Mills also spent 18 years on the Arkansas Parks, Recreation and Travel Commission. And from 1982 to 1986, he served as the Arkansas Director of Tourism. In 2018, he was inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame.

“I am honored that Gov.-elect Sanders has nominated me to be the Secretary of Parks, Heritage and Tourism – and ready to get to work growing our outdoor economy,” Mills said in a news release. “It’s time to unleash the Natural State’s potential to be a true leader in parks and tourism, improving access for all Arkansans and our visitors to world-class outdoor recreation.” 


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