April Layher has accepted the job of Pine Bluff Parks and Recreation Department director offered to her Monday by the Parks Commission, filling a position that has been vacant since the September firing of former director Angela Parker.
Layher, who is currently an enforcement analyst with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality in Little Rock, will begin her duties in January.
“In general, my goal is to start my term as director on a positive note and set some goals,” Layher said Tuesday. “I made the decision to apply for the position because I thought I would be a good fit. I have had a lot of experience in different types of recreational activities. In addition I was an environmental educator with the Delta Rivers Nature Center and have been involved with the Bayou Bartholomew Alliance since its inception in the mid-1990s.”
Layher said that she is keen to see the numerous outdoor recreational opportunities that are available in the city more fully utilized.
“I think Pine Bluff has so many good resources that can be turned into positive resources for the community to enjoy,” Layher said. “We have Lake Langhoffer, Lake Saracen and the Arkansas River right here to enjoy. In the work my husband and I have done with the Bayou Bartholomew Alliance, we have assisted in working to restore it to a state where it has cleaner water and more recreational opportunities.”
Layher said that the bayou’s status as the second longest if not longest such waterway in the world presents a wealth of opportunities for eco-tourism in the area, which also means increased economic activity.
“Bayou Bartholomew should be a source of pride and a benefit to all the communities that is passes through,” Layher said. “The headwaters of the bayou are just north of Pine Bluff and the city is one of the largest if not the largest municipality that it runs through.”
Layher said that the Pine Bluff region is also on the flyway of more than 100 species of migratory birds.
“Birdwatching is a hugely popular activity that we should be able to capitalize on,” Layher said. “We just need to focus on and develop the resources that we have right here.”