Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) A new department formed within Missoula County will also have a new director to oversee everything from trails to the newly acquired public park at Marshall Mountain.

On Wednesday, the county announced Randy Arnold as the first director of the Lands, Culture and Recreation Department. The county created the department as part of a reorganization to better align with similar programs and to increase efficiency.

Arnold, who arrives for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, will start his new role on April 1. The county didn't say how much the position pays or where program funding will come from.

“Over the past 10 years, I’ve been committed to addressing complex recreation and natural resource issues in western Montana,” Arnold said in a statement released on Wednesday. “Missoula County’s talented staff, and their ability to quickly bring resources and solutions to these challenging issues, have led to some of our biggest successes.”

The new department has inherited a large responsibility including management of the county fairgrounds, Marshall Mountain, the Larchmont Golf Course, parks and trails, and open space.

Commissioners hinted at the department's creation last year as it considered taking the management lead on Marshall Mountain, which was purchased using funding from the Open Space bond.

Creation of the program marks a shift in the county’s goal to manage its public lands and recreational amenities, and to address recreation management challenges.

The department falls under the country's already established planning department.

“With a growing portfolio of lands, Missoula County has an amazing opportunity to continue providing a variety of recreation experiences, ready access to parks and trails, and protection of open space and working lands,” said Arnold.

Arnold spent the last decade as the Region 2 supervisor for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks in Missoula. He also spent nearly 30 years with FWP, where he began his career after graduating from the University of Montana with a degree in wildlife biology.