New Texas State Parks Director Named

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AUSTIN — Brent Leisure, a 26-year veteran of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, has been named director of Texas State Parks. A regional parks director for almost seven years, Leisure will assume his new duties as leader of the agency’s State Parks Division effective Sept. 1.

Leisure replaces Walt Dabney, who is retiring on Aug. 31, after 11 years of leading Texas state parks through some challenging times to become one of the nation’s most innovative state park systems.

The announcement of Leisure’s appointment to lead state parks was made today by Scott Boruff, TPWD’s deputy executive director of operations.

“Brent has a long and successful track record in Texas State Parks as an advocate for the staff, our visiting public, and the natural and cultural resources in those parks,” Boruff says. “We look forward to Brent continuing the great tradition of stewardship and promotion of recreational opportunities that Walt Dabney set in motion in recent years.”

TPWD Executive Director Carter Smith calls Leisure the right choice for the future of state parks.

“Brent’s vast experience and penchant for innovation are the perfect combination to lead the Texas State Park system well into the 21st century,” Smith says. “He has the full support and respect of his peers and the department’s leadership to continue on the positive course set by his predecessor.”

“This is an exciting time for Texas state parks as we face a changing population demographic that requires us to incorporate new thinking into our strategic planning,” Leisure says. “This new position presents me with a wonderful opportunity to lead a passionate, dedicated team of park professionals into the future to provide a park system that will become ever more important to Texans in days to come.”

Leisure first worked for Texas state parks in the early 1980s as seasonal summer help. The Texas Tech University graduate (class of ’84) has served brief stints the past five years as acting state parks director. More recently, Leisure has been the director of Region 5, which includes 16 state parks in southeast central Texas staffed by more than 150 employees. For more than six years prior to that time, the parks veteran served 11 years as general superintendent of the Lost Pines Complex that includes Bastrop and Buescher state parks. Leisure is a commissioned state parks police officer.

As regional director, Leisure developed a structured mentoring program for assistant park superintendents to train future leaders within the state park system. He also pushed within his region’s parks for aggressive use of Global Positioning Systems and prescribed burning as a resource management tool.

As director, Leisure will oversee a system composed of 93 state parks, state natural areas and historic sites, and a division of about 1,350 employees.