Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced this week that he is opening the Office of Outdoor Recreation to coordinate awareness, opportunity, and stewardship of Arkansas’s outdoors.

“We live in one of the most beautiful places on earth, and you don’t have to look far in any direction to know that,” Hutchinson said Monday. “We want to keep it that way. The Office of Outdoor Recreation will maximize opportunities for outdoor recreation in Arkansas, while preserving our past and conserving our beauty.”

This office will be under the leadership of Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism Secretary Stacy Hurst, who soon will start the search for a director.

Hutchinson also announced that the state has added Blue Mountain to its inventory of outdoor recreational sites and has entered into a memorandum of understanding to operate the Lake Sylvia Recreation Area.

With the acquisition of Blue Mountain, the state will have charge of all three mountains in the chain of Maumelle Pinnacles, which includes Pinnacle Mountain and Rattlesnake Ridge. The addition of Blue Mountain is another example of the public-private sectors working together. The Arkansas Natural Heritage Commission in partnership with The Nature Conservancy purchased Blue Mountain from PotlatchDeltic. Conserving this land protects the Little Maumelle River and adds to a 12,000-acre conservation and recreation corridor.

The Lake Sylvia Recreation Area is the only surviving Girl Scout Camp constructed by the Works Progress Administration.

Outdoor recreation in Arkansas brings in nearly $10 billion a year, supports 96,000 jobs worth $2.5 billion, and generates $698 million in local and state tax revenue.