Utah State Parks Blog

Fred Hayes, Director of the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation, has Passed Away

Fred Hayes smiling outside of Butch Cassidy’s Boyhood Home | Utah State Parks

SALT LAKE CITY — Mike Styler, executive director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources, announced today that Fred Hayes, director of the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation, passed away this afternoon at his home in Heber City. The cause of death remains unknown.

Hayes was appointed division director in 2012 and has been instrumental in significantly increasing the profile of Utah’s 44 state parks. As a result, State Parks has experienced record park attendance and profitability annually and has aggressively been developing and creating new recreational opportunities statewide. 

Fred Hayes posing with a cutout image of Butch Cassidy

“We have lost a dear friend and a passionate and dedicated supporter of recreation in Utah. Fred will be sorely missed. Our immediate concern is for Fred’s family, his wife Serena and their five children,” said Styler. “Our condolences go out to them at this difficult time. Fred was dearly loved by his employees in State Parks and everyone at DNR that had an opportunity to work with him.”

Hayes’ motto of “more people having more fun in more parks more often” has been the division’s driving force behind its success. His passion for his employees, outdoor recreation and the state of Utah was easily recognized by others and had a way of rubbing off on those around him. When he was appointed, Hayes vowed to, “fight with our dying breath,” to keep every park open. That commitment has been kept and recreation at Utah’s state parks has flourished ever since.

Fred Hayes, Director from 2012-2018

“Fred has made a significant contribution to Utah’s diverse and extensive outdoor recreation industry. My condolences go to Serena and the entire Hayes family, ” said Governor Gary Herbert. “Fred had a unique ability to connect with people, whether government officials, legislators, local leaders, community partners or his division personnel. His leadership, forward thinking and calming influence have benefited all those he worked with and forged the division’s success.” 

Hayes began his state parks career in 1982 as a seasonal park ranger aide at Starvation State Park. He held numerous positions with the Division, including park ranger, nature center education specialist, off-highway vehicle coordinator, and deputy director. Prior to joining State Parks, Hayes spent several years as a biology, math and personal health teacher in the public schools of Duchesne and Uintah counties. 

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