Gene Reynolds

Gene Reynolds, D-Minden, left the Louisiana Legislature in June 2018 to oversee state parks. He serves under the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.

Louisiana State Parks, where lawmakers often take money to help balance the state budget, will enter its second legislative session without a leader.

Gene Reynolds, a former Democratic state representative from Minden who took over the Office of State Parks in June, abruptly resigned last week after eight months on the job.

Reynolds took the job overseeing the state’s 21 parks and 19 historic sites after former state senator and Wildlife Secretary Robert Barham retired before the 2018 session of the Louisiana Legislature.

“I just felt like it was the best decision for me,” Reynolds wrote in a text Tuesday. “No real issues, just time to go home.”

The state Department of Culture Recreation and Tourism, which is over the state parks, as well as the Office of Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser, which oversees CRT, did not respond to emails seeking comment Tuesday.

Barham left and Reynolds took over as the Legislature was debating a budget that proposed cutting the state’s appropriation to parks by 24.2 percent, which would have required closing half of the parks and most of the historical sites along with laying off 102 of the parks’ 199 employees.

Lawmakers eventually agreed to add more money to the parks and shortly afterwards money from the settlement of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster became available. With repairs and upgrades, the state parks saw a growth in revenue and visitors.


Follow Mark Ballard on Twitter, @MarkBallardCnb.